Bruce MacMillan, CA, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International, welcomed more than 3,700 attendees to MPI’s World Education Conference à la Montréal during Sunday’s opening general session. Dressed in a Canadiens hockey jersey, MacMillan introduced speakers--and fellow Canadians--Mark Andrew, outgoing chairman of the MPI board of directors; Gerald Tremblay, mayor of Montréal; Charles LaPointe, president and CEO of Tourism Montréal; and Angie Pfiefer, CMM, incoming chairwoman of the board of directors.

This year’s conference theme, “Connect Yourself,” was apparent in MPI’s announcement that it will sign the United Nations Global Compact on Corporate Social Responsibility, a voluntary initiative that asks participating companies to support and enact the principles of human rights, labor, environmental sustainability, and anti-corruption. The UN Compact is the world’s largest CSR initiative and includes more than 3,700 participants from more than 100 countries.

“This is the first step in making a commitment to this growing global focus,” said Pfeifer, assistant vice president, corporate meetings, travel and incentives, Investors Group Financial Services, Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba, in a statement. “By supporting the UN Compact, MPI continues to position itself as an industry leader and elevates the conversation for our members by informing them about corporate social responsibility and the role that meetings and events professionals can play in supporting those principles for employers and clients.”

In keeping with the Compact, many eco-conscious initiatives were apparent at the conference, including:

  • The elimination of paper products at the opening and closing receptions,
  • Complimentary bus and metro passes for all attendees,
  • Digital signage in place of meter boards,
  • Audience response technology in place of paper evaluations,
  • Re-usable water bottles distributed to all attendees,
  • Recycling stations throughout the convention center,
  • Leftover food sent to food banks, and
  • Vegetable-based ink and recycled paper used in the printing of all marketing materials.

Incoming chairwoman Pfeifer also briefed the crowd on other new initiatives members can expect to see under her leadership, which include the expansion of MPI into Asia Pacific, with a new office in Singapore scheduled to open in October; the launch of an MPI chapter in Korea; and an April 2008 Professional Education Conference in Dubai.

Keynote speaker for the session, Don Tapscott, author of “Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything,” spoke about the changing business climate and the need for co-creation and collaboration in both business and meetings. He commended MPI for incorporating wikis and blogs in its new Web site—both examples of Web 2.0 and critical technology for collaborating in business.

The general session concluded with an awards presentation including the announcement of MPI’s Global Paragon Award winners and an awe-inspiring performance by Cirque du Soleil. This year’s winners are:

  • Marion N. Kershner Memorial Chapter Leadership Award--Mary Ellen Murphy, CMP, CMM, director of special events, Del Posto
  • Tomorrow’s Leaders Award--Megan E. Welsh, national sales manager, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
  • International Supplier of the Year Award--Robert E. Walker, vice president of creative services, AVW-TELAV Inc.
  • International Planner of the Year Award--Janet Sperstad, CMP, Lead Instructor, Madison Area Technical College
  • Global Paragon Award--The Energy Center of Wisconsin for its “2007 Better Buildings, Better Business Conference”
  • Global Paragon Award for Excellence of Theme--American Red Cross for its “125th Anniversary Celebration”
  • Global Paragon Award for Promotion--Mini USA and R/A Performance Group for its “Mini Takes the States”