Our Executive Council 

Richard Waddington, EMA Chair

Having started a career in Hotel Management in the Midlands Richard moved to London in 1980 forging his career in the city running events and hospitality at the Stock Exchange prior to moving to SG Warburgs (now part of UBS) In 1990 he opened Spencer House for Lord Rothschild and then launched his own agency First Protocol in ’96 - exited in 2012 through a MBO. Richard founded EMA in 2013 with a number of senior corporate contacts to create a network and voice for the corporate event planner. The association has grown over the years to become the recognised national association exclusively for in-house corporate event professionals with Richard representing our voice at the table of the BVEP – the national body for all industry related associations. Richard is an active investor and mentor across the events industry and holds a number of Non Exec Directorships as well as being a sort after speaker at key industry events.

Karen Small, BVA BDRC, EMA Council Member


Karen is Senior Client Services Director for the Hotels and Hospitality team at BDRC. She looks after a wide range of BDRC’s global hospitality clients and maintains and develops their suite of mystery shopping services. Within this remit she leads the Mystery Guest audit programmes, running the projects end to end. Karen joined BDRC from Nationwide Building Society, where she led the Event Management team. The team delivered a busy schedule of large conferences, road shows, incentives and recognition events. Karen’s 10 years’ service at Nationwide also includes the role of Corporate Hospitality & Events Manager and Personal Assistant to an Executive. Karen is an active marketer in the hospitality industry, delivering events for BDRC, and is a practicing board member for the Event Marketing Association and board member for the Meeting Needs Charity.

Alex Vail, UK Finance,  EMA Council Member


 An events director and author with a proven track record in creating exciting, high-quality and financially successful events and brand activations all over the world, Alex started working full time as an in-house events manager in 2005 and has since produced over 800 conferences & events across the technology, education, finance, innovation, publishing, marketing, luxury retail, HR, health, aviation, corporate governance and legal sectors. In 2017, he turned this experience into three books in The Guide to Events series. He blogs at www.guideto.events, and can be followed on Twitter & Instagram @guidetoevents.

Lauren O'Brien, KPMG, EMA Council Member


An experienced event professional with over 13 years’ experience, Lauren has worked around the globe on events for a wide variety of companies, associations and charities, producing over 1,500 events. Lauren has a degree in International Event Management from the University of Brighton and is a holder of a PRINCE2 qualification. Lauren joined KPMG in 2017 and is Manager for the Events & Hospitality team.
Elisabeth Kaufman De Tone, Euromoney Institutional Investor, EMA Council Member

I work in the London office of Institutional Investor and run 12-14 a year around the world (Asia, Africa, Europe, Scandinavia, etc.). I moved to New York after University to work in the advertising business for some three of the top agencies (Young & Rubicam, DDB Needham and Saatchi & Saatchi.  I then worked on the client side for the GAP (GAP, Banana Republic, GAP Kids and Old Navy) in the Public Relations department.  After 5 years, my next move was to work for a company hosting Golf and Tennis events all over the United States, landing at a job working for The Morgan Library (of JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley) in New York managing their events department.  After 2 years at The ML, I went to work at the NY office of Institutional Investor and was then transferred to our London office in 2006 and have worked there for the past 12 years. 

Christina Petrova, Gartner, EMA Council Member

Christina is a Corporate Conference Manager with experience that spans over 7 years in the events industry. She graduated with MSc from the University of Surrey and started out in the industry as a Hosted Buyer Manager for Reed Exhibitions and later for Connections Meetings. Client Relationship Management was a big focus in these two roles as well as logistics management. After 3 years, she decided to take on an exciting opportunity with the Event Marketing Association and joined the team as the Operations Manager for EMA. In this role she led the strategy for the association with the support of the Association Chair and the Executive Board. She also took on other projects with corporations and agencies operating in Intellectual Property, Automotive and Tech. Currently, in her role with Gartner, she leads the Enterprise IT Leaders and Enterprise Supply Chain Leasers Events Portfolio within the EMEA region. In this role she collaborates with and serves as an advisor to stakeholders, as well as manages procurement, budget writing and executes the business’s vision through her events. Christina loves social media, and proudly supports EMA’s initiatives and its wider events contributions. Outside of work Christina loves traveling, music, yoga and her loving family.

Emma Stoker, Barclays, EMA Council Member

With 16 years' experience in corporate and agency roles, Emma has delivered global events for industries including Financial, Automotive, FMCG, Pharmaceutical and Construction.  Emma's experience covers several disciplines including brand engagement, experiential marketing, employee engagement and performance improvement, with a drive for getting under the skin of the strategy and objectives behind the event.  As an active ambassador within the event marketing industry, Emma regularly participates as a speaker and awards judge, as well as a guest lecturer and mentor to support the talent that underpins our fantastic industry.

James Hitchen, EMA General Manager

James has been in the event and hospitality industry for over 17 years. Having previously run his own event agency for 9 years, James is now the General Manager of the Event Marketing Association, James has a wealth of experience in event communications, production, design and management. James joined the EMA in November 2017 and oversees the day to day running of the association which includes delivering the strategy, content, events and managing the membership with the support of the Council. As well as keeping busy with the Event Marketing Association James is a passionate mental health & wellbeing campaigner, speaker and professional member of the International Stress Management Association. James works with individuals and organisations on stress prevention & wellbeing programs and if that is not enough James is training to be a therapist.