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Global Hack Brings Together Six Pros in Three Times Zones Over Two Days to Brainstorm Options for Post COVID Global Event Industry

Media contact: David Perry & Associates, Inc. (415) 676-7007 / 

Global Hack Brings Together Six Pros in Three Times Zones Over Two Days to Brainstorm Options for Post COVID Global Event Industry

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Inspire
Instant International Online Collaboration Self-Dubbed “Hack Busters”
In Top Tier of Facebook Global Hack Contestants

22 April 2020 – San Francisco / Washington, DC / Copenhagen: “Planet Earth….we have a problem.” When the present-and-future of 1.5 billion annual special events is in danger in light of COVID-19, who you gonna’ call?

“We dubbed ourselves Hack Busters,” laughed Fiona Pelham, CEO of Positive Impact Events ( based in Copenhagen, an internationally recognized leader on how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals impact and inform the event industry. “Last Wednesday I heard about the Facebook Global Hack. On Thursday I called my colleague David Kliman in California. On Friday we had a team. On Saturday, we entered the competition. On Sunday, we found out that we placed in the top tier of competitors.”

According to The Global Hack Facebook Page over 15,000 participants from over 100 countries worked on 500 life changing projects. The project spearheaded by Pelham’s team – High Tech / Low Touch: Face to Face Business in a Post COVID World ­­­– was entered in the “Media Category” and came in 15th of 60 projects submitted.

“Pretty good for a collaboration across time zones with 48 hours notice,” Pelham summed up.

For over 15 years, the not for profit Positive Impact Events has been providing engagement, collaboration and education to create a sustainable event industry. Since 2016 Positive Impact Events has had memorandums of understanding with various United Nations Bodies including UNFCCC and UN Environment.

“When Fiona calls, you answer, and the answer is always ‘yes.’ ” said David Kliman, founder and President of The Kliman Group (, based in Sonoma, California, whose response of “for years” answered the question of his longtime professional relationship with Pelham. “For the last few weeks, every client and colleague I know has been wondering ‘what to do next. What to do now.’ When Fiona mentioned the Facebook Global Hack, I saw an opportunity for instant collaboration.”

Former International Chairman of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and a delegate to the White House Council of Travel and Tourism, Kliman’s Rolodex is deep and wide and international. Having co-chaired the MPI/PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) Tomorrow’s Summit Conference and served on MPI’s Multi-Cultural Initiative committee, Kliman was awarded one the industry’s highest accolades when he was named MPI International Meeting Planner of the Year in 1999.

Within minutes, Kliman’s digital tentacles had reached out to Kristin Horstman, Senior Director, Strategic Events (San Francisco) for tech giant Salesforce (, Nathan Chin (Washington, DC), Senior Product Manager for the international event software company Cvent (, and David Perry (San Francisco / Palm Springs)international communications consultant and founder of David Perry & Associates, Inc. ( Positive Events intern Joely Donald was pulled in as well, hitting the ground hacking with animation and graphic skills.

“I’ve been hacked but I’d never hacked before,” laughed Perry, who has worked on such high profile events at the Running of the Olympic Torch, Super Bowl 50 and the Shanghai World Expo. “All I knew was that last week every client, every colleague, every thought of mine was clouded by panic. This seemed like something positive to do.”

Horstman, veteran of hundreds of complex special events for global giant Salesforce,  was pragmatic. “The global events industry was alive one day, and dead the next,” she said about the impact of COVID-19. “The need for professional networking did not change with COVID-19, but the ability to do it, did. The sort of face to face, in-person relationship building that comes out of professional networking is crucial. When I heard about this hack, I thought – great – the sooner we start planning solutions the better off we’ll all be.”

The stressful task of “Hacker in Chief” fell to Chin: the only person who had ever participated in a hack.

“Hacking comes second nature to me,” said Chin. “The type of online trans-national networking that online tools now allow for is my daily bread. However, this was the first time I had to work with a group who needed to learn how to get the grain and bake the bread,” he laughed.

The result – by all accounts – was a resounding success.

“Winning would only have been a small bit of icing on the cake,” said Pelham. “Because of this crisis, serendipity and David Kliman’s connections, we realized a new group of professionals who worked together quickly, collegially and successfully. We’re looking for our next opportunity to collaborate. We really liked each other.”

Hack Busters, an unofficial moniker, has now led to an official gathering.

“This week, we’re getting together again,” says Kliman, a self-described “optimist” about how the global events business will meet the challenge of a post COVID-19 world. “People are looking for solutions. Our industry is looking for solutions, and the time is now.”

Pelham agrees:  “What I want is to make the most of an opportunity to collaborate to create a piece of technology that will support the robustness of the future of our industry. Positive Impact Events exists to collaborate, engage and educate on sustainability and this is about the sustainable future of our industry. Our ad hoc Hack Busters group is going to be an important part of that.”

With this Earth Day more of an inspiration than ever, Hack Busters is continuing their collaboration – online and spread across three time zones – with the  intention that by the start of June there will be a free product available across the global event industry in line with their “High Tech / Low Tech” hackathon ideas.

 Stay tuned: when the going gets tough, the tough get hacking.

About Hack Busters:

The Hack Busters group took part in The Global Hack, supported by UN SDG Action Campaign, which took place 9-12th April. Over 15,000 participants from over 100 countries worked on 500 life changing projects.

What did we build and how did we build it?

Following a design thinking process, the team began by empathizing on the pain points COVID 19 had caused event professionals around the world. The team then defined their problem point to solve as the statement  ‘How might we use technology to provide a failsafe template for in-person events that requires no additional last-minute resources (human and material)?’ In other words how might our technology support the future of an event industry where an event owner could plan their event from day 1 with backups in place so the event would definitely happen. Following input from mentors from UN SDG Action Campaign and other global hackathon experts the team refined their idea and created a basic prototype of a piece of technology which could be used to plan an in person event with a virtual backup which would avoid waste of time and resources. This solution came 15th out of 60 entries in the relevant section of the hackathon and this inspired the team of first-time hackathon-ers to go to the next step.