GO Conference & Incentive


Simon McKearney, Helloworld NZ CEO, takes 5 minutes with Sandy Botterill on her return to the Event industry as Global Head of Events at GO Conference & Incentive.

So what’s it like to be back in the travel and events industry?
It’s amazing! It’s only been four years, but I feel I have grown up while I was away. I’ve been working in the innovation space most recently and I see so much opportunity for innovation in events. I am so lucky, I have the most amazing team to work with, and our parent company (Helloworld) is going fantastically well, having just won the “Best Travel Brand” at the TAANZ awards. It is such a fun time to have joined this business.

What are your biggest concerns?
Always trying to be in front of whatever is coming next. I really believe organizations need to change before they have to. The world is changing so fast and so are our customers’ expectation of what we deliver. We need to be ahead of that change and bring creativity and problem solving to everything we do.

Do you worry about competitors?
I try to focus my attention on delighting our customers instead of worrying about competitors. I truly believe in our offering and value proposition, from this perspective, our competitors are only relevant if they are innovating, and then I am not so much worried, but rather interested. A good competitive market can only bring better outcomes for all the market participants. 

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge facing the event industry?
Really, I don’t think it’s much different to many other industries, technology is changing quickly and is changing how people relate to travel including large group events. We need to make sure we are providing a service that is relevant to the market needs today. We want to provide an experience that our delegates feel has genuinely added value to their lives, creating those special, amazing, “pinch me” moments.

Can you give us a little insight into what drives you?
That is such an easy question …. Building and working with great teams. What really gets me out of bed every day is people. I love helping people (which is probably the reason I started my career as a lawyer), and now I get the absolute privilege to coach people, help them grow, and see what’s possible for them.

When I came down and caught up with the team last week, there were a lot of sticky notes about, can you explain that?
One of the skills I have been developing in the last couple of years is design thinking and how to really use the team as a whole to solve problems. It’s actually a really fun and interactive way to come up with great ideas and bring them to fruition.

What’s next?
We are employing and growing the team. Next year, we will have the best event delivery team in the market and I am so excited to see what we will achieve. It starts with great people who know how to put the customer at the heart of what we do!