At the recent Middle East Event Awards, I was both surprised and honoured to receive the award for “Outstanding Contribution to the Middle East Event Industry”. Unexpected to say the least, it precipitated a cocktail of emotions. It’s not the first award I’ve won, but it was unique in many ways and steered my thoughts into introspective territory. The fact is that you don’t really do it for the awards. You do it because something inside drives you to excel. And it’s this passion and perseverance that awards applaud. A short but memorable break to celebrate your achievements, before returning to pursue the goals you’ve set yourself.

No, you don’t do it for the awards but it certainly feels nice to receive them. Not the physical trophies (although those can be quite beautiful sometimes), but the meaning behind each award. The joint recognition of your peers and a genuine validation of whatever you’re trying to achieve.

And that’s something that distinguishes well-earned awards – you never become blasé about receiving them because you’re intimately familiar with the hard work and sacrifice that they represent. And for people like myself who tend to be self-critiquing perfectionists, awards are also authentic benchmarks for gauging how we’re doing and where we need to do more. They are after all a highly refined mirror that society and our peers hold up to us.

When you’ve been in the event management business for as long as I have, it’s easy to lose track of how far you’ve come. That’s another thing about awards – they’re fantastic milestones; irrevocably marking your journey and the things you’ve achieved. In less than nine years, I’ve helped to make Action Impact the UAE’s brand experience agency of choice. Along the way we’ve picked up many regional and international awards, including seven Middle East Event Awards – ranging from “Best Cultural Event in the Middle East” and “Best Exhibition Stand Design” to “Best Event on a Budget” and “Highly Commended for Employer of the Year”.

But this particular award means a lot more to me personally. In early 2009 I was approached by a local formation committee regarding the establishment of a Middle East Chapter of the International Special Events Society (ISES) - the world’s largest international professional association for the special events industry. After almost 18 months of campaigning under my interim leadership, ISES Middle East was incorporated as the officially recognised business group for the Dubai event industry.

Then in 2012, I was voted President of ISES Middle East by the founding committee and founding members. We went on to increase our membership to over 80 in less than 15 months – making it the organisation’s fastest growing chapter in the world. Consequently in 2013 I was honoured with two ISES accolades: the “J. Robert Graves Pioneer Award” and the “Outstanding Membership Achievement Award”.

All this seems to have culminated in the “Outstanding Contribution to the Middle East Event Industry” award, which quite frankly I was not expecting at all. It’s exhilarating and humbling at the same time. To be recognised and singled out for such a prestigious honour by the industry at large is overwhelming to say the least.

The award brings together everything I’ve just talked about – a milestone that I’ll forever cherish, a personal best that I’ll strive to improve upon, and a solid validation of my values and principles. I’ll conclude by saying a sincere ‘thank-you’ to everyone who’s been a part of this incredible journey so far. Now let’s see what else we can achieve together.