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Ask Me Anything Series: Planners On Stage

May 31, 2023 @ 11:30 am2:30 pm EDT

Ask Me Anything Series: Planners On Stage

Date: Wednesday, May 31st, 2023
Time: 11:30 AM – 2:30PM
Location: The Waterside Inn,15 Stavebank Rd S, Mississauga, ON L5G 2T2

Last week, PCMA Canada East Chapter hosted a remarkable Ask Me Anything: Planners on Stage Lunch ‘n Learn. The event took place on a beautiful sunny day, at The Waterside Inn, a charming boutique hotel located in Port Credit, Mississauga. For those unfamiliar to an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, it is an interactive panel discussion that opens the doors to burning questions and controversial topics within the industry. The AMA event left a lasting impression on me, and I would like to take a moment to reflect on the insights shared by the esteemed moderator and panelists and express my appreciation for their valuable contributions.

Sheila Wong, CEM, DES, Senior Vice President of BBW Event Staff, was our talented moderator for the day. Sheila effortlessly steered the discussions with her insightful questions, keeping us engaged and captivated. What truly amazed me was how she brought humor and joy to even the most controversial discussions on stage. The atmosphere was light-hearted, and the energy in the room was infectious.

Of course, the event wouldn’t have been as enlightening without the esteemed panelists who shared their expertise and perspectives. We had the privilege of hearing from Rawle Borel Jr, CSEP, Manager of Communication Services at TJX Canada; Suzanne Burnie, CEM, CMM, Director of Events at Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario; Joe Nishi, Managing Director at Meeting Encore; Dwayne Rutherford, Managing Director at Debonair Corporate Events; and Vanessa Wilson, CMM, DES, Director of Conferences and Events at Canada Health Infoway. Each panelist brought their wealth of experience to the table, and their willingness to share their knowledge, challenges, and successes was truly commendable. Who would’ve thought socks were such a hot topic of discussion?

I must also give a shout-out to our event partners: The Waterside Inn, AV Canada, PC Nametag, Pinpoint Photography, and Ignite. Their contributions were impeccable, ensuring that every detail was perfectly planned and executed. From the moment we arrived to the closing reception, everything flowed seamlessly, making it a truly enjoyable experience for all attendees.

One of the highlights of the event was the opportunity to connect with fellow industry professionals. The interactive discussions created an environment that encouraged open dialogue and networking. It was a pleasure to exchange ideas and establish new relationships with like-minded individuals. The collective energy in the room was palpable, making the event not only informative but also incredibly fun.

If you missed the event, not to worry! In September, PCMA Canada East Chapter will be hosting another exciting Ask Me Anything Panel, this time with suppliers on stage. The event will take place in Ottawa, so mark your calendars! Stay connected with PCMA Canada East Chapter for updates on registration and further details. Don’t miss out on the chance to engage and learn from industry leaders.

In conclusion, I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone involved in making this event a tremendous success. From the engaging discussions led by Sheila and the panelists to the seamless organization by our event partners, it was an experience to remember. I left the event feeling inspired, motivated, and grateful to be part of such an incredible industry. Here’s to future events filled with knowledge, laughter, and meaningful connections!

Sandra DaMota, CMP
Director, Education & Events
PCMA Canada East Chapter


Sheila Wong
Founding Partner and Senior Vice President
BBW International Inc. operating as BBW Event Staff and BBW Outsourcing

In 1991 Sheila Wong joined Henk Bok and an equity partner to form BBW International Inc., a national event staffing company. They quickly set the industry standard for staffing events through training to deliver exceptional customer service. Using the eLearning tool developed by Sheila, Front-pro™ certifies their team of Event Professionals to put their best foot forward. Currently, BBW staffs 1200 events in nine cities across Canada with over 1800 employees. They have become the launching pad for many people who want to pursue a career in the events industry.

In 2013 Sheila was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Meetings + Incentive Travel Magazine for Volunteerism and won the Meeting Professionals International Toronto Literary Award. In 2016 She was inducted into the Canadian Association of Exposition Management Hall of Fame and named 2016 Industry Influencer in the Toronto Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. Most recently she received recognition by the Customer Service Professionals Network as the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year for Women in Leadership. In 2023, Sheila was recognized as a Finalist in the PCMA Visionary Awards in the Groundbreaker category.

Today, Sheila gives back to the industry and the community through fundraising for various causes.

Dwayne Rutherford
Managing Director
Debonair Corporate Events

A love for people and building  meaningful relationships  is what fuels Debonair Corporate Events Founder and  Managing  Director. When you know, you know. Dwayne has been gathering people since his high school years and has acquired the knack for reaching people and encourages them to be their authentic self. His journey has allowed him the opportunity to host celebrity events for Jamie Foxx, Wyclef Jean, Ky-Mani Marly, Denzel Washington, Kevin O’Leary and many more. His authentic approach to connecting people is infectious. Rutherford’s clients have ranged from high-profile figures and high-net-worth individuals to non-profit charities. His favorite events are corporate galas, conferences, and social gatherings. He demonstrates an innate understanding in producing an event that elevates the idea of the client and exceeds their expectations.

Suzanne Burnie, CEM, CMM
Director of Events
Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

With more than 20 years experience in the events industry, Suzanne Burnie is a certified, award winning event planner with a distinguished career designing and delivering both virtual and in person signature events. Suzanne is the Intern, Director of Events for the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario representing 100,000 members and 21,000 students across Ontario. As a national leader for best-in class events, she is a creative thinker and problem solver that oversees the strategic development, implementation and execution of elaborate programs. Past events include complex multi-day industry conferences, award ceremonies, preeminent exhibitions, and trade shows.

Joe Nishi 
Managing Director
Meeting Encore

After 24 years of hotel operations and sales leadership with Hyatt & Starwood in Asia, Canada and the US, Joe joined Meeting Encore in 2009 and in January 2012 became co-owner and Managing Partner of Meeting Encore; Canada’s first Site Sourcing Specialist organization, which was founded in 1990.   Joe also co-manages two sister companies, Fuel Sports which focuses on sporting events and Intuitive Conferences & Events; a full service meeting and event management company.

Joe has sat on a number of advisory boards and is former Chair of the Global Business Travel Association, Canada, Meetings & Events Committee.  Joe has 3 kids and lives just down the road in Stoney Creek with his partner in crime Shannon Byck and his two dogs; Halliday and Alomar (clearly Jays fans in his house).

Vanessa Wilson, CMM, DES
Director, Conferences and Events
Canada Health Infoway

As the Director, Conferences and Events at Canada Health Infoway, Vanessa has more than 15 years of experience leading and developing best-in-class digital and live events ranging from 50 to 1,500+ attendees, along with significant knowledge of the non-profit sector, having worked alongside the public sector, vendors, sponsors and industry leaders while planning and executing these events.

Vanessa is passionate about building teams to execute creative, seamless events, to consistently elevate the event experience for speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and attendees, while enhancing the organization’s brand. She is a Certified Meeting Manager and Digital Event Specialist.

Rawle Borel Jr, CSEP
Manager of Communication Services / Directeur des Services de communication
TJX Canada

A planner and communication professional for over 25 years, Rawle ability to work collaboratively with vendor partners to deliver impactful, strategic events has been key to supporting and driving organizational goals. Working mainly in the corporate space, Rawle also has experience in the public sector and with not-for-profit. Rawle has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Communications from Brock University and the post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from the Humber College. In his spare time, Rawle enjoys traveling to new destinations. New people, new food, new cultures are fascinating and continue to be a catalyst for personal growth. Rawle shares his passion for people, memorable events and unique travel with his wife, two sons and three dogs!


May 31, 2023
11:30 am– 2:30 pm EDT