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Five minutes with ICEAWARDS founder, Anita Howard

Anita Howard

Anita Howard, ICE 


The annual ICEAWARDS recognise and celebrate the work of in-house corporate event planners. With the deadline of this year’s awards rapidly approaching, we caught up with ICE founder, Anita Howard, to find out more about the initiative and her thoughts on the corporate event landscape.


ICEAWARDS is celebrating its fifth year this year (congratulations!). How did the idea for it come about?

Our community of in-house Corporate event planners are considered top of the MICE ecosystem.  After years of working within the sector, we realised in 2015 that the individuals delivering incredible events day in day out were not receiving the recognition and respect they deserved both internally and externally. Events are an important strategic part of corporate business, yet often the stakeholders do not involve the event teams in the strategic planning and treat the events department as a back-office function, rather than a brand building and, in some cases, a revenue generating department.

So, we decided to launch an awards initiative solely for in-house planners to step into the limelight for a night, receive the recognition from their peer group and enhance their profile.  One of our winners told us that their CEO now describes her team as their “award winning team” - very proud!

Five minutes with ICEAWARDS founder, Anita Howard

Rachel Firth, previously of Universities UK awarded Contribution to Industry Award


What do you think the biggest challenges for in-house corporate event planners are today?

I think there are several challenges corporate planners must contend with today. To name just a few:

  • Upwards management of their internal stakeholders.
  • Sustainability will still be extremely important for 2019, but its effectiveness is largely dependent on corporates’ own stakeholders and their priorities.
  • Wellness, another key industry trend in 2018, will be just as, if not more important in 2019, but will encompass a more in-depth look at overall job satisfaction – having a voice and having a purpose when contributing to the companies’ wider goal. A wellness 2.0.
  • Pressure on budgets could potentially encourage event professionals to cut out agencies and go direct to suppliers.
  • Increasing demand for creativity against less budget.
  • Adopting a millennial approach to make events more personal, more human and more authentic.

You’ve launched a number of ICE events since the 2015 awards – how do you see the ICE initiative developing in the future?

With the ICEAWARDS we have no hidden sales agenda. We are simply endeavouring to help our community of in-house corporate event planners receive the recognition they deserve. Our engagement with these corporate event teams has built over the years to create an environment of mutual respect and trust. This engagement has brought to the surface some further insights into what is missing in the work life of this community, which has prompted us to create and develop a much larger platform of initiatives to guide, connect and inspire our community.

For example, we have launched ICEONLINE, a web-based publication offering event planners guidance from senior global event professionals, inspiration from creative champions and direction on new developments and resources.

Anita Howard presents ICEAWARDS18

Anita Howard presents ICEAWARDS18


We now include, on the day of our awards ceremony, our conference ICEDAY, where corporate event planners at all levels can hear from commentators and futurists, network with their peers from a wide selection of sectors and share case studies of award-winning events.

We have also brought together global corporate event directors at our thinktank ICETALK, where we look at future trends and developments across all aspects of the business. 

We’ve become a crowdsourced portfolio of solutions for corporates to share and learn on-demand – ICE crowdsources everything from the community.  We are commencing some benchmarking research into the corporate community to provide key metrics to help planners get a seat at the strategic table.

We are also working with the Creative Industries Federation to lobby for Events to be recognised as a creative sector.


What do you think are the most exciting trends in events currently?

The obvious answer here would be event tech, but I worry about the adoption of technology as a gimmick. I think what’s exciting but sounds a bit dull is the acknowledgement that creativity needs to permeate right through the event journey from initial concept to post event legacy. And I don’t mean creativity as a dressing, I mean it as an attitude and a behaviour. That will mean a change in dynamics for all stakeholders but will also mean more effective and meaningful outcomes.

GES are proud sponsors of the ICEAWARDS. To find out more about the awards and to make a submission, visit