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Honoree Headshot

Sherrif Karamat

President & CEO
PCMA & CEMA

Location: Cook County
Year Founded: 1958
Industry Group Specific: Business Events

Presented by:

When Sherrif Karamat became the CEO of PCMA in 2008, he had the opportunity to lead PCMA’s strategic development. “Through the process, I learned that business events needed to play a broader role in society, not just economically, but to impact social outcomes,” said Karamat. “When we bring people together, we can solve a lot of issues. Business events are just a platform – what we do with that platform is up to us.”

PCMA and CEMA educate, inspire and listen, creating meaningful experiences where passion, purpose and commerce come together. The firm is the world’s largest community for business events strategists, providing senior-level education, networking and market intelligence for the global business industry events. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA has 17 North American chapters, regional communities in APAC, EMEA and LATAM, and members in 59 countries.

The company’s initiatives include a CEO pledge – the Ascent CEO Promise – asking CEOs to commit to embracing a culture of inclusiveness in their organizations and events. “If we believe in individual rights and freedom, we should never accept an intolerant society,” said Karamat. “Society should never be ‘tolerating’ anybody – we should just accept people for who they are. That’s what makes our culture, our society, richer.”

Under Karamat’s leadership, the firm has embarked on its first apprenticeship program that partners with Choose Chicago and United Airlines, providing a foundation for a journey full of possibilities and transformation with access and exposure to the industry. “Leadership is not a popularity contest, and it can be hard when everything rests on your shoulders,” said Karamat. “We must prepare people and develop them for that.”

PCMA has an aggressive goal to become the platform for the global business events industry by 2030. “Our industry is currently a red ocean of associations,” said Karamat. “One of our main goals is to affect consolidation – we have to provide greater value to the industry and consolidate how we provide that.”

During his 20+ year career at PCMA, Karamat has adopted a purpose-driven focus that was evident long before the pandemic unearthed the inequities and social challenges facing the world at large, said his staff. In 2019, PCMA announced its commitment to combat child sex trafficking by signing the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. In 2021, he led the lauch of Business Events Industry Week, a collaborative journey to unite the global business events industry.

For his continued advocacy and leadership, Karamat has been named to the Titan 100.

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