Global News Updates

ICCA names new CEO

Senthil Gopinath takes the reins this month, pledging to “work on the transformation of ICCA”.

ICCA’s Board of Directors has selected Senthil Gopinath to serve as the organisation’s new CEO.

Previously serving as the regional director of ICCA Middle East, Gopinath’s immediate responsibilities as CEO will include developing and executing annual business plans, ensuring operational sustainability and financial controls, and building ICCA’s global membership. He will work from ICCA Head Office in Amsterdam and report to the President and Board of Directors.

ICCA president and executive director of ExCeL London, James Rees, says: “Senthil brings the qualities that we most need in a leader at this juncture. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated not only that he can establish a vision, but also chart the tactical path to reach that vision, always working from a solid foundation of operational and financial expertise.”

Gopinath’s career in the business events industry spans more than 20 years, with 18 years spent working within ICCA member organisations. In 2016, he joined the ICCA team in the Middle East, where he has forged new relationships with regional governments and industry partners, and grew membership in the region by more than 80 per cent.


The ICCA Board noted several career accomplishments as key to their consideration of Gopinath during the candidate review process, including:

  • Dramatically elevating MICE operations for Emirates Group as its head of business development and operations, making the division one of the largest and most profitable in the region;
  • Re-structuring and re-strategising the business model of VFS Global a part of Kuoni Travel Group. As Vice president – South Asia of VFS Global, growing annual profits exponentially over 60% growth in two years;
  • Creating an innovative private-public partnership model for the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau as its general manager and CEO, increasing business tourism by 78 per cent and driving a 64 per cent increase in revenue.

Gopinath’s selection marked the end of a process that began in October 2018 and drew more than 100 applicants for the position.

Finalists were screened through extensive interviews as well as an objective, psychometric evaluation of work styles and strengths using a leading industry instrument. As per ICCA by-laws, the Board made the final selection in a closed-vote process, with Gopinath winning by majority vote.

“I am truly honoured to be appointed for such a prestigious position in one of the global meetings industry’s leading organisations,” Gopinath says. “I have always cherished my involvement with ICCA and now being at the helm will enable me to listen more closely to our members and key stakeholders, and service them in a more enhanced manner, making ICCA more relevant to the global membership. Together with the ICCA team, we will work on the transformation of ICCA.”

Rees adds: “I am delighted that ICCA is now in a position to move forward with its new CEO Senthil Gopinath. However, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Interim CEO Dennis Speet for his incredible work over the past ten months to help the Board of Directors lay firm foundations for ICCA’s future growth.”