Leading the Leaders Circle: Meet Kathy Nicolay

The Leaders Circle brings international meetings to Toronto.

Did you know Toronto had the highest number of international meeting attendees in North America in 2014? Toronto was also ranked second in North America for number of international meetings held that year.

These numbers tell a fantastic story about Toronto’s position as a top meetings and events destination. And this status has immense implications for the city. When international meetings are hosted here, they bring with them a legacy of social and economic benefits to Toronto. What’s more, they also shine a light on this great city as a place of innovation and excellence.

The Leaders Circle (Toronto’s official Ambassador Program) is a program that plays an instrumental part in bringing these international meetings to Toronto. Top thinkers, innovators, and researchers throughout Canada partner with the Leaders Circle to form a growing network of leaders to host these events in Toronto on the world stage, which ultimately amplifies their life’s work and research globally.

The process that leads up to the meeting itself can be complex and competitive. It all starts with a strategic bidding process led by a Leaders Circle Ambassador. But what motivates an Ambassador to start this process in the first place?

Meet Kathy Nicolay. As Leaders Circle Manager, she facilitates the growth of the Ambassador network, a role that gives her insight into why professionals who are not meeting planners by trade would be compelled to plan their own international meeting.

What is it about working with Ambassadors that you love?

KN: Our Ambassadors are very passionate about what they do. They are so busy with their day-to-day careers; they are teachers, researchers, leaders of programs and institutions. And when they lead a bid for an international meeting, it’s clear they have so much energy and passion for this new project too, which is something I really respect.

It’s exciting to learn about their fields of study and not just talk about meeting specs. We talk about their work. It’s more personal. These conversations reveal their spark, their motivation for wanting to shine a light on their respective fields by hosting an international meeting.

It’s also wonderful to witness such a strong sense of camaraderie within the group. It truly becomes a network of people that bonds over this shared experience of bidding for, and hosting, an international event.

Have you ever had an ambassador who was hesitant or shy about leading a convention bid? How did you overcome that?

KN: Yes. As I said, Ambassadors have busy schedules, and to lead a bid takes time away from their daily career. And for some, the perception at first could be that it’s a lot of time away from their career as they realize that while they may be experts in their fields, they are not experts in hosting meetings and conventions.

Ambassadors lose their hesitation after learning more about what the partnership with the Leaders Circle really means for their meeting. We truly have a support system within this group; they receive help with the bidding process every step of the way.

What excites you about the work that you do?

KN: From working with an Ambassador through the first stage of the bidding process, to seeing an international meeting come to life, I really love having the opportunity to see everything from start to finish. And, of course, being involved in the international meetings market through the Leaders Circle is exciting in itself in that we get to build on Toronto’s global reputation and put a spotlight on groundbreaking institutions and study that is happening here.

Learn more about the Leaders Circle by visiting http://www.theleaderscircle.ca/.

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