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Gary Murakami Is All In

This serial volunteer’s latest success was an event for Global Meetings Industry Day that brought together 11 industry associations. Find out what he wants to do next.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Gary Murakami, GTP, GLP, CMP, CMM

Director of Global Sales
MGM Resorts International

For his volunteer leadership creating a record-breaking Northern California event for Global Meetings Industry Day

Making Change
I was asked by the president of the Northern California chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association to chair the 2019 Global Meetings Industry Day event for the San Francisco Bay area. This was an opportunity for me to revive and expand on an event called Hospitality Touchdown that I planned in 2014 and 2015 to connect our local meetings industry. Building on that idea, our efforts for the April 4 GMID event drew together 11 local chapters of hospitality industry organizations to collaborate on the event—an unprecedented number—from PCMA and Meeting Professionals International to the Senior Planners Industry Network, the Corporate Event Marketing Association, and others. There were more than 350 attendees at the GMID reception, and we raised almost $10,000 to support both St. Anthony’s Foundation, which helps the homeless in San Francisco, and ECPAT-USA, dedicated to the fight against human trafficking. Speaking as one voice showcases to those outside our industry the enormous social and economic impact and influence of meetings and events.  While each industry organization has its own initiatives and focus, an opportunity to lead different associations for a common objective was a fulfilling pursuit and further indicates the need for increased collaboration.

What’s Next? 
I am currently volunteering with the PCMA Foundation as a member of the Board of Trustees, and with the Event Industry Council’s Industry Insights Council as chair. In July, I’ll become president-elect of MPI’s Northern California Chapter. I would like to inspire others to contribute where and how they can to be a part of our industry’s future.  Our industry can only move forward through the strength of our collective community.  

One of the goals I have for my various volunteer roles is to continue to articulate and amplify the importance of inclusion and diversity in meetings and events, and elevate this conversation. I want to make more people aware of the positive social and economic impact that inclusivity has on our industry.

Managing Change
Managing change is about understanding that sometimes change is out of our control.  One must be open to understanding the change and then developing processes to work with that change to yield the best outcome and results.

Best Business Advice 
Our chief sales officer at MGM Resorts International, Michael Dominguez, gave each of us on the global sales team a special rock paperweight etched with a quote from Jacob Riis on “Pounding the Rock.” It reminds us about the power of perseverance and consistency: “When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know that it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

Role Model
I have been honored to work for the past several years under the direct leadership of Michael Dominguez, who selflessly and generously provides his time and knowledge to our industry. His commitment and passion generate a similar enthusiasm and desire from my colleagues and me to be part of our industry’s future, through the spirit of volunteerism and the realization that each of us can contribute to the change we want to see. 

Spare Hour?
If I have extra time in the day, I’ll spend it connecting in some way with people in my life.  I always appreciate the opportunity to connect with someone in a more personal way.


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