Sexton steps down from PCMA leadership as Karamat prepares to step up to CEO

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) has announced a change in leadership. After more than 12 years at the helm, president and CEO Deborah Sexton has decided to move on and launch a consultancy. She will step down after the upcoming Convening Leaders event Nashville in January 2018.

Sexton shared her decision with the board of directors at the September meeting. The board voted unanimously to approve chief operating officer Sherrif Karamat as the new CEO, in line with the association’s succession planning. Sexton and Karamat have worked closely together since 2005.

With 6,000 members and 50,000 subscribers, PCMA is the world’s largest network of business events strategists.

“Deborah’s passion, boundless energy and her hunger to continuously innovate have resulted in tremendous growth and progress both for the organisation and the industry,” said PCMA board chair Mary Pat Heftman. “We could not be more grateful for her dedicated leadership, driving strategic plans that make PCMA the leader in our industry.”

In addition to her role as CEO of PCMA, Sexton has also served as president of the PCMA Education Foundation and publisher of PCMA’s Convene magazine.

Under her leadership, and working in partnership with Karamat, PCMA more than doubled its membership and revenue, as well as expanded its global reach. During her tenure, the Foundation has more than tripled its support for scholarships, research and education programmes.

“It has been a privilege to serve PCMA,” said Sexton. “This organisation continues to lead the way in the business events industry due to the dedication of our staff, the leadership of our board and wisdom of our membership.”

“Having worked alongside Sherrif for more than a decade, I have great confidence in the future of PCMA under his leadership.”

Karamat joined PCMA in October 2003 as vice-president of sales and became COO of the organisation in April 2008. Prior to PCMA, Karamat was vice-president of business sales and services for the Toronto Convention and Visitors Association (Tourism Toronto).

“I am honoured to succeed such an inspiring leader, and I’m appreciative of the board’s vote of confidence,” said Karamat. “Because of the strong foundation that has been established by Deborah’s leadership, I know we will build upon this great platform.”

The COO position is yet to be filled.



Paul Colston

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