Meet the BestCities Team

Corne Koch profile image

Corne Koch

Board Chair & Member of Executive Committee and Head of Convention Bureau, Cape Town

Corne Koch is the current Head of the Cape Town and Western Cape Convention Bureau.

Koch first entered the business tourism industry in 2003, joining the Gauteng Tourism Authority (a provincial Destination Marketing Organisation) as their Business Tourism Manager before taking on the role of Communications Manager at the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa in 2009.

She re-joined the Gauteng Tourism Authority once again in 2010 for another three year stint as Trade Development and Partnership Manager, marketing the brand locally and internationally before joining the bureau in her current capacity in 2014.

Prior to working in destination marketing, she was also involved in the field of Corporate Affairs, being responsible for the South African Chamber of Commerce’s annual meetings and convention for three years.

Email Corne Koch

View Profile

Marco Oelschlegel, CMP profile image

Marco Oelschlegel, CMP

Member of Executive Committee and Director Conventions, Berlin

Marco has been working in the meetings industry for more than 15 years - as an event organizer and market manager for the UK, France and Spain. In 2017, he was promoted to Deputy Director Conventions of the Berlin Convention Office and heading the Business Development Team. Marco is passionate about Berlin, the city of Freedom - which has developed into one of the leading meeting destinations in the world. He as strongly believes in the Power of People of the BestCities Global Alliance - which he has been working with since Berlin's adhesion in 2012.

Marco Oelschlegel took over as head of the Berlin Convention Office (BCO) of visitBerlin on 15 January 2020.

Email Marco Oelschlegel, CMP

View Profile

Liliana Orbegozo Convers  profile image

Liliana Orbegozo Convers

Executive Director, Bogota

Liliana Orbegozo is the Executive Director of the Greater Bogota Convention Bureau, where she is responsible for running this non-profit corporation whose main goal is to position Bogotá as one of the world’s events capitals, with a network of strategic partners formed by a group of companies that are members of the bureau and represent the local offer. Thanks to their professionalism and experience, Bogotá stands out for offering services with the best quality standards.

She is lawyer with a Masters in Journalism from Los Andes University in Bogotá, Colombia, with an ample experience leading high-performance teams in commercial and administrative operations.
Prior to her work at the Bureau, she worked for the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, where she was the Deputy Director of the Center for Arbitration and Conciliation, where she planned, coordinated and directed the provision of services and commercialization of the same, through the leadership of a team, in such a way that the established budget and the profitability projected in the strategic plan, were met. Her persuasion skills and ability to establish successful commercial relationships, and planning style, have brought a positive impact on the organizations she has worked in, leading to being recognized as a positive value generator for organizations.

She also worked as Head of Institutional Relations and Strategic Alliances at the United Nations Global Compact Colombia, coordinating all institutional relationships with Colombia’s national and local governments, the private sector, UN agencies operating in Colombia, and UN headquarters in New York. She led strategic alliances in different social development projects that were built to accomplish the United Nations Millennium Development Goals in Colombia.

Email Liliana Orbegozo Convers

View Profile

Kit Lykketoft profile image

Kit Lykketoft

Director of Convention, Copenhagen

Kit Lykketoft is the Director of the Copenhagen Convention Bureau.

Here she works to attract international association conferences, meetings and events to her home town.
Prior to this she has been a visiting research scholar at Parsons DESIS Lab in NYC, working with social innovation with the city of NY, following her eight years of building up MindLab within the Danish Government administration.

At MindLab Kit applied design driven and user focused processes to Danish policy-and reform making.
She also advised numerous other countries and large international organization on how to do this. She is a member of the Advisory Board to the UNDP Innovation Facility and co-writer to the book “Design for Policy”.
In her current position Kit is focused on identifying value besides growth, to support positive impact of the industry on all bottom lines. Kit holds an MA in History/Anthropology from University of Copenhagen and an Executive M.Sc from Oxford/HEC.

Email Kit Lykketoft

View Profile

Steen Jakobsen profile image

Steen Jakobsen

Director of Business Events, Dubai

Steen Jakobsen is the director of Dubai Business Events – the official convention bureau of Dubai, where he is responsible for the promotion and development of Dubai into one of the worlds’ leading destinations for business events. Prior to joining Dubai Business Events, Steen held a similar role as director of Copenhagen Convention Bureau for 8 years.

Steen is actively engaged in the global meeting industry. He served on the Board of Directors as 3rd Vice President of International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) from 2008 - 2014.

He also served on the Board of Directors of Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC). From 2003 – 2007, Steen was chair of BestCities Global Alliance and today he serves on the Board of Directors of BestCities Global Alliance.

Before joining the Copenhagen Convention Bureau, Steen worked for the Danish government at the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs. Steen holds a Master degree in Commerce and Commercial Law from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Sheffield.

Email Steen Jakobsen

View Profile

Sam Johnston profile image

Sam Johnston

Manager, Dublin

I have managed the Dublin Convention Bureau for five years and also have a responsibility for the Convention Bureau in Cork, Kerry, Shannon Region and Galway.

My lucky day was in 2015 when I became Manager of Dublin Convention Bureau. I've worked in rural and urban DMOs since 1999, initially in leisure tourism but made the move to MICE in 2010 and haven't looked back. My early career involved welding equipment but left that after an incident involving nuclear submarines - ask me about that some day!

Email Sam Johnston

View Profile

John Solis profile image

John Solis

Vice President of Sales, Houston

John Solis joined the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau as vice president of sales in December 2010, after spending a year and a half consulting on sales strategy.

Solis retired from the San Antonio CVB as assistant executive director in 2008. During his tenure, he was involved in coordinating bids for citywide conventions and major events, including the 1996 NBA All-Star Weekend and the NCAA Men's and Women's Final Four Basketball Championships. His main responsibilities included managing the tactics and strategies related to marketing, public relations and the convention and tourism group sales and services efforts.

Email John Solis

View Profile

David Noack Pérez profile image

David Noack Pérez

Director, Madrid

In the tourism industry since more than 20 years, David Noack joined the Spain Convention Bureau in 2002 as Director. At the SCB he was in charge of the umbrella organization that unites leading national suppliers- from hotels to congress centres and cities to event agencies in more than 50 cities around Spain.

After a five year period at the SCB David joined the Madrid Convention Bureau as Deputy Director. Since September 2012 he is the Director of the MCB, a non-profit organisation created by the City Council of Madrid in collaboration with a group of public and private companies from the sector, with a view to promoting Madrid as a city capable of hosting national and international meetings and aiming to enable these events from a technical and institutional viewpoint.

David is graduate in Tourism & Hospitality Management and he has a M.A. in European Tourism Management by the University of Bournemouth.

Email David Noack Pérez

View Profile

Julia Swanson profile image

Julia Swanson

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Melbourne

Since joining MCB in 2010, Julia has led the business development, bidding, convention servicing, research and Government relations teams on the successful acquisition and delivery of some of the world’s largest and most prestigious business events. She has personally led the bids for some of the most highly acclaimed global medical conferences including the International AIDS Conference 2014, World Congress of Cardiology 2014 and the World Congress of Nephrology 2019.

Prior to joining MCB, Julia was the Area Director of Sales and Marketing VIC/SA/WA with IHG (InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels) overseeing the Sales and Marketing performance of 8 hotels as well as new hotel openings across the region.

Julia holds a Bachelor of Business (Catering and Hotel Management) and a Masters of Business (Hospitality and Tourism Marketing). Her sales experience includes 13 years’ experience in a number of international hotel chains.

Email Julia Swanson

View Profile

Edward Koh profile image

Edward Koh

Executive Director Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel Experience Development Group, Singapore

Dr Edward Koh leads the Conventions, Meetings & Incentive Travel division of the Singapore Exhibition and Convention Bureau, a group under the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), since 2019. He provides strategic counsel to attract quality association congresses and corporate-driven events to Singapore, maintaining its position as a leading International Convention and Meetings destination. Edward also oversees local industry growth to further entrench Singapore as a business events destination.

In his previous appointment, Edward assumed the position of Executive Director, Southeast Asia since January 2015. Edward led the overall operations of STB in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. He also oversaw all strategic planning and execution of marketing activities within these markets to champion Singapore as a compelling tourist destination.

Prior to that, Edward served as Executive Director for Southeast Asia I and International Group Planning in March 2014 where he led the Division in providing critical policy and planning support for the Regional Offices and working with in-market industry partners to drive tourism growth. He was the Executive Director for Strategy & Planning and Research & Incentives in November 2011, responsible for the provision of economic
analysis, consumer insights and market trends to the tourism sector.

Edward brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge of the China market. He previously served as Deputy Regional Director for STB Greater China (2006-2008), where he was responsible for strategic planning and channel development to drive BTMICE traffic from China to Singapore. He subsequently assumed the role as Regional Director for STB Greater China (2008-2011), where he managed and oversaw five Regional Offices: Eastern China, Northern China, Southern China, Western China, and Hong Kong & Macau and provided strategic direction for his team to effectively promote Singapore as a compelling destination and hub for business and travel.

Before joining the STB, Edward spent 13 years at the Ministry of Manpower, where he held various positions in its Prosecution Unit, Manpower Policy Department, International Manpower Division and Contact Singapore. His last position was as the Regional Director (Greater China) for Contact Singapore and concurrently the Deputy Director (International Operations), International Manpower Division. He was also the Alternate Lead Negotiator (Movement of Natural Persons), China-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (CSFTA) for the period of 2004-2005.

Edward graduated from the National University of Singapore in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science, and Beijing University in 2003 with a second Bachelor's degree (Chinese Language & Literature). He also holds a Master degree in Public Policy & Management (2007) from Tsinghua University, and a doctorate in Hotel & Tourism Management from Hong Kong Polytechnic University, School of Hotel & Tourism Management.

Email Edward Koh

View Profile

Kazuko Toda profile image

Kazuko Toda

Conventions Director, Tokyo

Kazuko Toda joined the Business Events Team of the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB) in 2001. In 2004, she was appointed Director of the Team, and has been energetically working on promoting Tokyo as an international meeting destination. Her track record of numerous bid wins include the Annual Conference of the International Bar Association 2014, IWA World Water Congress 2018, and the 22nd International Congress of Nutrition in 2021.

Prior to joining TCVB, she was in charge of meeting management and operations at the largest travel agency in Japan. In the 30 years of experience in the meetings industry, she has worked on over 300 international meetings, blessing her with abundant experience and personal relationships within the hospitality industry. She also has experience in operating corporate meetings and incentives.

Email Kazuko Toda

View Profile

Michael Drake profile image

Michael Drake

Board Treasurer & Member of Executive Committee and Director of Sales, Meetings & Conventions, International & Canada, Vancouver

Michael Drake, joined Tourism Vancouver three years ago, as the Director of Sales, Meetings and Conventions. In this senior leadership role, Michael oversees Tourism Vancouver's Meetings & Incentives Global and Canadian sales team. His team includes Corporate, Association and Sports, along with their Ambassador program, called “The MIND Program”. Michael assumes the board level roll with our global alliance with “BestCities”, on behalf of Tourism Vancouver.

A Toronto transplant, Michael brings 20 years of hospitality sales experience to his role; including Director of Global Accounts at Hyatt Hotels and Associate Director Sales with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Toronto.

A longtime supporter of SITE and a SITE Canada board member for 6 years. Other affiliations include MPI and ICCA. When not out promoting Vancouver, he is out skiing Whistler Mountain, hiking the Vancouver North Shore Mountains or finding a running route in the city he is visiting.

Email Michael Drake

View Profile

Beverley Williamson profile image

Beverley Williamson

Alliance Business Development Chair and General Manager, Business Development & Bids, Melbourne

Beverley Williamson is the General Manager, Sales with Melbourne Convention Bureau. Since Beverley joined MCB in 2007 she has held the positions of Senior Bid Manager; Associate Director Convention Sales and Director Bids and PCO Partnerships. Before joining MCB, Beverley held positions with Freehills (Melbourne) as Event Manager; Fox Events (Melbourne) as Director of Events; and Martlet Conferences and Exhibitions (United Kingdom) as Event Manager.

Bev is a Senior Executive with verifiable year-after-year success within a rapidly changing international environment. She is a strategic thought leader who excels in combining big picture thinking with articulate execution. She has extensive experience in international bidding, sales and business development strategies and is highly successful in building relationships with C-level decision makers. Her skill set includes government relations, member engagement, stakeholder management, budget planning and management, event legacies, commercial partnership opportunities, not for profit expertise, business growth, strategy development, revenue generation and national and international business development.

Beverley holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Tourism Management from the University of Brighton, United Kingdom.

Email Beverley Williamson

View Profile

 profile image

Lesley Williams

Managing Director

Prior to joining BestCities Lesley was Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh where her key focus was sourcing and bidding for international conferences for the city.

Lesley has served on a number of committees focused on raising the profile of Scotland as a world leading conference destination including involvement in the Annual Business Tourism for Scotland; as Deputy Chair of Business Tourism for Scotland; and also as Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter.

Email Lesley Williams

View Profile

 profile image

Jane Cunningham

Director, Community Engagement

Based in Stockholm, Jane has been doing Business Development for BestCities Global Alliance since December 2009. Before joining the team Jane was the Sales Director for Congrex UK, an international professional conference organisation. Prior to that, she spent five years at the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) in Association Sales. Before returning to Scotland Jane worked in Dubai for Le Meridien Hotel as a Sales Manager.

Jane studied French, Italian and Tourism and after college she spent a number of years overseas working in the hospitality and tourism industry. She was an active member of ICCA and was on the ICCA UK & Ireland committee.

Email Jane Cunningham

View Profile

 profile image

Nigel Brown

Director, Marketing & Partnerships

Nigel started his career at the head office of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) in Amsterdam. He was part of the event organizing team of the association and served 7 years organizing a host of events on all continents. During his tenure he gained extensive project management skills and was responsible for implementing new technologies at ICCA events. Prior to joining the team Nigel worked as Project Manager for Singex Exhibition Ventures, the event organizing arm of the Singapore EXPO.

During his period at Singex he gained experience working on trade & consumer shows and conferences. This all-round experience has given him insights into both the client and supplier sides of the events industry.

Nigel holds a Bachelor of Hotel Administration, Bachelor of European Hospitality Management from the Hotelschool The Hague and a culinary diploma from the Amsterdam College of Hotel and Gastronomy.

Email Nigel Brown

View Profile

 profile image

Nicole Havers

Social Media and Business Development Support

View Profile

 profile image

Caryn Wong

Associate, Alliance Operations

Based in Kuala Lumpur, Caryn joined the team as its Management Assistant in July 2012. She provides management support to the company's Corporate Office and also works closely with GainingEdge's Asian Office to build and manage its Asian clientele.

Prior to joining the team Caryn worked for one of Malaysia's leading destination management company and professional congress organiser where she served as a personal assistant to the Group Managing Director of Asian Overland Services Tours and Travel and AOS Conventions & Events for 14 years. Earlier in her career, Caryn has worked as a Secretary to the Owner/Accountant of a Malaysian based accounting firm, which later became internationally affiliated and provided administration support in a property development company.

Email Caryn Wong

View Profile