ASSOCIATION AND LEADERSHIP ROLE: President: Meeting Professionals International | Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter

HIGHLIGHTS: an immigrant who worked his way up the industry ladder from the front desk to the corner office.
Saved someone’s life. Grew up in the timeshare business.

At your current job, what is your role?
I wear many hats including co-founder, chief revenue officer, business development, account manager and meeting planner. As a third-party independent planner, you are both a planner and a supplier, even though most of my clients are referrals or were previous clients from my hotel and convention and visitors bureau days.

How long have you been in the meetings and events industry? I’ve been in the meeting and events industry for 15 years and in the hospitality industry for 20, including positions in marketing, revenue management and operations.

What was your first job in the industry? My family was in the timeshare business, so I was able to experience amazing destinations and resorts growing up, and I got hooked. I decided to pursue a career in hospitality and a degree at Texas Tech University’s restaurant, hotel and institutional management program. So, of course, my first jobs were as a front desk associate at a Holiday Inn and an internship at a motel in Branson, Missouri. There, I learned every department as I made reservations manually, inspected rooms, checked guests in, unloaded and delivered their luggage, scooped ice cream, made sandwiches, cleaned rooms and performed audits, all in one shift. I learned early on that it takes all departments to come together and collaborate as a team to succeed.

What do you love most about your job? I love being a creative solutions partner. I get to use my diverse knowledge to create memorable experiences while finding mutual opportunity solutions for my partner clients and suppliers. I have been on both sides [of the vendor relationship], which allows me to be a trusted adviser to my clients and a good partner to my sup-
pliers, providing a mutual win for all.

What has been the biggest challenge in your work? As an immigrant, learning a new language and culture was challenging, but nothing could prepare us for a pandemic. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our industry, and we’ve lost many friends to the illness and through layoffs.

Conversely, the pandemic also created an opportunity to learn new ways to create events for a larger audience, solidified partnerships with suppliers through contract negotiations, and reinforced the need to hire senior level and accredited certified meeting professionals.

What is your favorite career memory? It has been a fulfilling career so far with so many good memories. One vivid memory was when I had to save a meeting attendee’s life by performing CPR after running up five flights of stairs. Another great memory was being trusted by a new customer to successfully create my first event as an independent meeting planner. However, one of my most memorable was being voted by my peers to lead one of the largest chapters of Meeting Professionals International as this year’s president. I cherish all my learning opportunities that help me grow personally and professionally.

What are your favorite words of wisdom? Success is always more fun when your whole team wins. There is nothing permanent except change. Attitude is everything. HOPE: Help One Person Everyday.

Any favorite business book recommendations? “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek.

Planners looking for a destination with an array of venue types, all catering to small-scaled meetings, and fun after-hours entertainment need look no further than McKinney, located just 30 miles north of Dallas. Whether historic, nature-based, modern, or situated in a Croatian village, McKinney’s venues are designed to meet your needs and exceed your expectations.


Engage with peers and leaders in Plano, Texas, during this learning and networking event.

The Texas Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus has announced the location of its 2023 Winter Conference. Attendees will gather in Plano, Texas, from January 17-20, 2023. The yearly event gives destination marketing organization staff and leadership the opportunity to learn from expert presenters, meet industry mentors, and find camaraderie in an atmosphere of learning and innovation.


Event hosts can choose whether the view rotates or stays put.

The iconic Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas will soon welcome a new restaurant, Crown Block steakhouse. Reunion Tower restaurants have been renown over the years for their slowly rotating view of the city. However, owners and husband-wife business partners Kim Canteenwalla and Elizabeth Blau have chosen to keep the dining area stationary. The previous restaurant, Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty, spun 360 degrees, but it closed in 2020 during the pandemic.