Have you ever wondered just who might be the top influencers in the New Europe Meetings Industry? As the industry rapidly evolves, it is clear that some key influencers actually have the same reach and draw as big companies, so individuals matter in a way that has never been possible before.

The Editorial Board of Kongres Magazine has once again assessed more than 80 influencers in Central and South East Europe after reviewing highlights from the Meetings industry in 2017 and has based their assessment on several key criteria, such as:

• Achievement of the best financial and other multiplier effects of the meetings industry in 2017, (significantly deviating from the average);
• Implementation of the most demanding improvements and innovations in their field, which also includes successfully implemented projects that have defined the year 2017;
• Help in enhancing the reputation and profile of the meetings industry in 2017;
• Innovations that facilitate the work of meetings organisers, or in their way have pointed the direction of the industry in the future.

Based on 680 individually completed surveys, Kongres magazine has analysed and shortlisted the TOP 45 most influential people. They have all contributed to the development of the region and our readers have chosen the best of the best. We have also added 2 newcomers in each category, voted by our readers.

The candidates have been divided into 5 categories.


Melinda REBREK, Ljubljana Fashion Week
Started as Casting Manager in times when that profession in Slovenia was as common as E.T. Grew up in TV & Film production as Production Manager, Executive Producer, Script Supervisor, AD, etc. Mastered Event Management in all its variations while freelancing for marketing and event agencies and finally gladly embraced independency with Pirana Productions. A few years ago, a handful of dedicated individuals decided to face the challenge and put Slovene fashion on the map. Zvereene Institute was established and Ljubljana Fashion Week was born. The rest is history.

Dani POLAJNAR, Teambuilding Academy
Dani Polajnar has more than 15 years of experience in training, coaching and events moderation. He is a founder and CEO of Teambuilding Academy – a company dedicated to developing team work in organisations through interactive workshops, active teambuilding programmes, personalised solutions and modern teambuilding events throughout Europe. He has created a strong team of internal and external trainers who develop innovative and high quality projects. His guideline throughout the numerous team-building products is always “adding value to the teams by helping them learn how to work better together”. Dani is a frequent guest speaker and moderator at different conferences and seminars. In 2009, he was awarded among The Best 10 Lecturers within the Slovenian market.

Ognena VASILJEVIĆ, Momentum Inc.
Ognena Vasiljevic has founded her own events agency in Skopje, Macedonia under the name of Momentum Inc. The agency’s goal is not simply to create events; but rather to create unique, memorable and extravagant experiences for everyone who comes into contact with the events of Momentum Inc. In its first year of existence the agency signed three innovative, large scale projects – the Health, Fitness & Wellness Expo, the Fashion & Lifestyle Expo as well as Showtime. Showtime is the first and only event industry trends conference in Macedonia – a market where investment and development of the event industry is practically non-existent. The projects have by now grown into a tradition, and are pivotal to the development of the events industry in the country. The agency is also realizing a number of events for clients from the corporate and NGO sectors in the country.


Davor BRUKETA, Bruketa & Žinić & Grey
Davor Bruketa is the Creative Director of Bruketa&Žinić&Grey advertising agency based in Zagreb, Croatia. He co-founded the agency as Bruketa&Žinić OM in 1995, together with Nikola Žinić, which was renamed to Bruketa&Žinić&Grey after becoming part of Grey Group in 2017. As Bruketa&Žinić OM the agency won over 450 awards for advertising and design. Advertising Age awarded B&Ž the International Small Agency of the Year 2014 award, and Campaign listed B&Ž among the world’s leading independent agencies. On the global Effie Effectiveness Index B&Ž was ranked second among independent agencies in 2012. Bruketa is a permanent member of the New York Cresta Awards Grand Jury, he was also a jury member of many other prestigious competitions such as Red Dot, D&AD London, New York Festivals, Graphis, Young Guns, Hiiibrand and he was the first jury president of the London International Awards coming from Southeastern Europe.

Juraj HOLUB, Slido
Juraj is the marketing director and chief meeting designer at Slido. Juraj received the Young Hero in Meeting Design Award and was selected as one of PCMA’s ‘20 In Their Twenties Class of 2016’ for his work as a professional, speaker and writer in many activities that drive meeting design. Juraj is the editor of the Slido blog and contributes to events industry media outlets such as Convene Magazine, Eventbrite, Livestream and Prezi blogs, among others. As a public speaker, Juraj applies the meeting design principles to deliver interactive sessions at events such as SXSWedu, WEC, Social Media Week and IMEX.

Gorazd ČAD, Toleranca marketing
Founder and owner of the marketing and congress agency Toleranca marketing, Gorazd has numerous years of experience in the planning, preparation and execution of major international trade shows and fairs. Having started his career in Cankarjev dom, where he project-led on fairs such as Infos, Kapital, Bits & Fun, Slovenian Wine Festival and many others, work in his private capacity has given him a long and multi-faceted experience of developing B2B trade shows, the most noteworthy of these being Conventa, Space, Natour and Hot-Rest.

Tomo RICOV, Pepermint

Weekend Media Festival has completely changed the face of marketing festivals of the region. By both number of participants as well as by the quality of content, it became an institution in a very short time. Each year it gathers more than 5,000 participants, among whom are all of the key players in the field of the communication industries.

Mary KIRILOVA, Baltic for events 

Mary Kirillova, has a great background related to events. As the board member of Baltiski Aljans OU, she worked with PracticePanther Law, Sberbank, Deloitte, Audi motors etc., British Petroleum, Milan Fashion Week, Gazprom, Lukoil and others. She has also launched Baltic For Events Forum ( organized for event agencies and customers in the Baltic Sea Region. Baltic For Events is a unique face to face event for more than 300 event professionals and live communication leaders from the Baltic States, Germany, Poland and Scandinavia. In the same year, she became general manager of Baltic Event Industry Club (

Ovanes OVANESSIAN, Co-founder of Weemss and Eventex Awards
Ovanes is an entrepreneur with affinity for events, innovation and technology. He has 10+ years experience in event management, event marketing, and event softwares. He is the co-founder of Weemss – the event management software used by hundreds of customers from around the world. Ovanes is also co-founder of Eventex Awards – possibly the most coveted and recognizable awards in the world of events. The whole team works 100% remotely with no physical office. Ovanes is enjoying a digital nomad lifestyle – he travels around the world and works remotely.


Jovan JELOVAC, Belgrade Design Week
A perfectionist, obsessed with the idea of establishing a regional creative hub. Belgrade Design Week is, in global terms, an event without precedent. His work is characterised by an understanding of the creative industries and their importance to the revitalisation of society. This results in a changed perception of Belgrade, which Jovan has achieved over a number of years. At the same time, the annual event is always a surprise in terms of the new innovation in its organisation.

Newcomers in 2017, voted by readers

Matjaž JUG, ETC Adriatic
Matjaž is an entrepreneur, start-up lecturer, co-founder of start-up accelerator KIKštarter and owner of ETC Adriatic – agency for corporate events. He has over 15 years of experience in tourism; he started as a tourist guide, later helped with organisation of biggest festival camps in Croatia and was one of the organisers of local music festival Kamfest for the last 10 years. Introducing the concept of glamping to guests visiting the Kamp Alpe campsite and inviting them into Žganjeteka, which held 150 of local fine spirits and liquors for them to try. He was recognized several times from the Slovenian tourism board and was a finalist in Snovalec and Sejalec, awards for innovations in tourism.