People News: The Opus Group, Cvent and More Grow Teams, Tap Seasoned Leaders

April 29, 2024

Who’s moving up at event-related organizations and companies throughout the global trade show industry? Take a look at our latest roundup of people news to help you stay in the know. 

The Opus Group

Global experiential agency network The Opus Group has named Kim Kopetz as its new president and CEO. Bringing more than 25 years of experience to her role, Kopetz will lead all The Opus Group’s brands — Opus Agency, MAS, TENCUE and Verve. She succeeds Mitch Barns, who has been CEO since April 2021 and will remain a board member. 

A long-time leader in the corporate events and experiential brand marketing industry, Kopetz first joined Opus in 1998 and has excelled in a wide variety of roles that have touched nearly every part of the business. In June 2020, she was named president of Opus Agency, and in October 2022, became president and COO of The Opus Group.


Meetings, events and hospitality technology provider Cvent has appointed Andreas Heckmann as its new chief customer officer, responsible for leading Cvent’s global client services organization with a focus on customer experience and client satisfaction. 

Bringing nearly 25 years of SaaS-based client experience to his new role, Heckmann most recently served as executive vice president of customer solution support and innovation at SAP, where he played a pivotal role in guiding SAP through the crucial transition from on-premise software to cloud solutions and leading the integration and transformation of all of SAP’s cloud acquisitions and SaaS/PaaS solutions.   

Event Leaders Exchange 

The Event Leaders Exchange (ELX), an invite-only community for global heads of events from the world’s largest corporations, appointed Nicola Kastner as its new CEO. 

Renowned for her expertise in event marketing strategy, Kastner brings a wealth of experience and accolades to her leadership role at ELX. Most recently, she was the founder of The Event Strategist, a boutique event strategy advisory firm, and before that, held various roles on both the brand and agency sides of the business, including as global vice president of event marketing strategy for SAP.  

As CEO, Kastner will spearhead ELX’s strategic direction, enhancing its global presence and reinforcing its position as a thought leader in the event industry. She will also focus on expanding ELX’s exclusive member base, maintaining the intimate and collaborative nature of the community while introducing fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.

ASM Global 

Global venue and event strategy and management company ASM Global has appointed Steve Rader as the new general manager for the Anchorage Convention Centers, comprising the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center and the William A. Egan Civic and Convention Center, which have been managed by ASM Global since 2000. 

A seasoned leader with nearly two decades of experience in the Alaskan hospitality and events space, Rader most recently served as general manager of the Lakefront Anchorage and the McCormick Scottsdale hotels, and before that, as general manager of the Hilton Anchorage. He has also held various leadership positions with Anchorage Marriott Downtown, WeTravel and Holland America. 

Ernest N Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority 

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry has appointed Russell W. Allen president of the Ernest N. Morial New Orleans Exhibition Hall Authority, the governing board of the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (NOENMCC).

Bringing a wealth of entrepreneurial experience and understanding of multiple industries to his new role, Allen is founder and CEO of Houston-based K-Solv Group LLC, focused on maritime, energy, environmental and industrial interests comprising businesses he either founded or acquired. He has owned and operated businesses in Louisiana for more than 15 years.  


CSI DMC promoted Cara Pratt to chief business development officer, tasked with working with the destination management company’s 14 regional offices to help create a unified and cohesive business development strategy. 

A destination management professional for more than 12 years, Pratt previously served CSI DMC as vice president of business development and became a partner in 2018, using her extensive experience in planning events in Boston to help grow the CSI DMC team and open three new offices around New England. Prior to CSI DMC, she served as vice president of business development for Destination Partners Inc. 

Miami Beach Convention Center

The Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC), managed by OVG360, has named 22-year hospitality industry veteran Bernardo Pinheiro as its new director of human resources. Prior to joining the MBCC, he served as the director of people and culture at the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Surfside, Fla.

Pinheiro’s extensive experience also includes a 20-year tenure at the iconic Loews Miami Beach Hotel, where he held various positions, including director of housekeeping, director of front office operations and assistant director of human resources.

Sphere Entertainment 

Live entertainment and media company Sphere Entertainment Co. welcomed 30-year creative professional Ned McNeilage as chief creative officer of the Las Vegas-based, next-generation entertainment medium Sphere.

In his new role, McNeilage will help shape Sphere’s creative and brand strategy, leading its in-house creative design studio and brand teams, and overseeing all Sphere brand strategy and creative, including content that runs on the Exosphere, the venue’s fully programmable LED exterior, featuring artistic content created by Sphere and renowned artists, as well as branded content. 

Prior to joining Sphere Entertainment, McNeilage served as chief creative officer at VML, where he worked on innovative campaigns for leading brands including Microsoft, IBM and Google in addition to overseeing multiple offices. Prior to VML, he served as chief creative Officer at BBH LA. 

Visit Salt Lake 

Visit Salt Lake (VSL) is expanding its financial team with the appointment of Brayden O’Brien to senior financial analyst, a newly created position in which he will analyze VSL’s internal performance and its external impact. In addition to managing Convention and Tourism Assessment Area (CTAA) funds, O’Brien will assist with streamlining financial operations across VSL’s programs, including the Salt Lake Ski Super Pass, Connect Pass, Cottonwood Connect transit program and newly revamped VSL membership program.    

Prior to joining VSL, O’Brien served as financial controller at technology company Particl, where he established the core financial operations, setting the foundation for scalable growth through the development of strong financial and accounting systems, processes and reporting.  


Collaborative event and venue planning solutions provider Iventis welcomed Matthew Wilson to its senior leadership team as chief revenue officer. Based in the UK, he brings expertise in driving business growth and fostering strategic partnerships from his background in technology and extensive experience in the events industry. 

Prior to Iventis, Wilson served as director of sales and marketing at D2i Systems Ltd., where he played a pivotal role in shaping the company’s commercial strategy and led successful partnership initiatives.

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