Leadership Team

A veteran team with decades of experience


The Essential Meetings team

Essential Meetings is headed by a well-rounded, veteran team with decades of experience developing incentive, recognition and loyalty programs. Get to know our leadership team:

Recognition Employee Team
Kristjan Thorsteinson

Kristjan Thorsteinson

President & CEO
As President and CEO of Essential Meetings + Incentives, Kristjan leads a team of seasoned associates who, like himself, have years of experience in the incentive and recognition industry. He is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the company and is actively involved in the management and oversight of customer relationships.

Kristjan is a founding partner of Essential Meetings. Prior to this, he held a variety of corporate and divisional leadership positions within the incentive travel industry, including director of sales and marketing. A member of Meeting Professionals International and SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence), Kristjan successfully combines incentive travel expertise with real-world travel experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge to our clients.

Kristjan was quite literally born into the industry, going on his first incentive program at six months old. A volunteer baseball, soccer and hockey coach, Kristjan resides in Calgary, Alberta, with his wife and 3 children.

Melanie Shelton

Director of Administrative Operations
As the person accountable for our complex administrative function, Melanie is at the epicenter of Essential Meetings. Her day-to-day responsibilities are varied but they keep all the moving parts of the company flowing.

Bilingual in French and English, Melanie has lived in Calgary for the last nine years. She has 15 years of experience in the incentive travel industry.

She is passionate about the outdoors and the move West was a perfect fit for her. In her spare time, she likes to hike in the Rocky Mountains and play soccer with friends. Having supported numerous excursions throughout the world, Melanie brings her knowledge and experience to all our client programs.

Melanie Shelton
Jennifer Bouma

Jennifer Bouma

Senior Program Manager
In her day-to-day work, Jen strives to manage programs to create the perfect travel experience for our clients. She does this while also organizing details for upcoming trips; from leisure to group to corporate travel, she handles it all. Jen is an early bird; she gets in an early morning workout, where she draws her energy for her (busy) day.

Over the past 18 years, Jen has gained solid experience in the travel industry in a variety of roles. With Essential Meetings since early 2017, she brings her high level of professionalism and enthusiasm to the office every day.

She is known for her generosity, big heart and volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity. Helping to build houses in developing countries around the world, or volunteering at a school in Guatemala, where she also sponsors a child, gives her great satisfaction, hope and fulfillment. Her humanitarian principles have led her to Vietnam, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, to name a few.

Jackie Paquette

Program Manager
In her role as a Program Manager at Essential Meetings, Jackie is charged with delivery of unique programs for Essential Meetings clients. Her focus on customer service and her attention to detail ensures programs are well executed and travellers are well taken care of.

Jackie has an extensive background with 10 years in project management, marketing and hospitality. She is bilingual in French and English and has a passion for travel, animals and her family. She has chased the sun to locations like Thailand, Cambodia, Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba and Jamaica. She has also travelled from coast to coast across Canada.

Friendly and outgoing by nature, Jackie loves meeting new people and enjoys spending her free time with family and friends. When she’s not planning programs to create unforgettable experiences for Essential Meetings clients, you can find her whipping up new recipes, working out or spinning the globe to pick out her next travel destination. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Jackie now calls Calgary home.

Jackie Paquette

Helping clients succeed is a great way to spend the day!

Contact us today to see how we can help.