Last year, we introduced our top 20 Changemakers to the meetings industry — 20 individuals who gained visibility among senior management in their companies by initiating strategic meetings management programs and thereby maximizing savings. We call them “changemakers” for their ability to create positive change — both in their careers and in their industries. This year's winners are, once again, shining examples of elevating the meetings role beyond logistics to focus on strategy and ROI. Cognizant of their ability to make a difference, they have also reached beyond their four walls to influence the profession as educators, mentors, and leaders. There's much to learn from their stories.

And the Winners Are …

Lee Ann Adams Mikeman
Vice President, Conference Planning & Special Events
Science Applications International Corp.

Debbie Andersen
Senior Manager, Americas Meetings & Conventions
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics

Craig Ardis, CMM
Director of Global Event Management
Zimmer Inc.

Lynn Averill
Second Vice President, Travel & Conferences
National Life Group

Kim Boriin, CMP
Senior Events Marketing Specialist
Guardian Investor Services

Terri Breining, CMP, CMM
President & CEO
Concepts Worldwide

Jeff Calmus, CMP
AVP, Conference &Event Planning
MetLife

Louann Cashill, CMP, CMM
Meeting Services Manager
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.

Patricia Kerr, CMP
Director, Distribution Sales Support
Manulife Financial

Kari Kesler
President & Chief Strategist

KK Strategic Solutions

Susan Lichtenstein
Director of Travel and Global Meeting Solutions
Cisco Systems Inc.

Kathy Lieberman
Manager, Event Management
GlaxoSmithKline

Rosemary Mueller
Senior Meeting Planner
Weyerhaeuser Company

Donna Foppoli-Patrick, CMP, CMM
Manager, Group Meetings, Events, and Travel
Medtronic Inc.

Angie Pfeifer, CMM
Assistant Vice President, Corporate Meetings, Travel and Incentives
Investors Group Financial Services

Marybeth Roberts, CMP
Director of Global Meeting Management
Amgen

Tom Tolvé, CMP
Senior Manager, Meeting Operations
Novo Nordisk

Tracey Wilt
Manager, Global Travel & Meeting Management
Xerox

Alice Woychik
Director of Meeting Solutions
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Dan Young, CMP
Director of Event Planning & Field Recognition
Thrivent Financial

Lee Ann Adams Mikeman
Vice President, Conference Planning & Special Events
Science Applications International Corp.
McLean, Va.

Past

Lee Ann Adams Mikeman began her career as an administrative assistant supporting meetings and conferences at SAIC 25 years ago. About 10 years later she moved to the corporate level to begin consolidating meetings companywide. She now oversees a team of eight that coordinates meetings, conferences, and events. Earlier this year, she was promoted to vice president of conference planning and special events for the company.

Cred

She began the process of rolling out a centralized meetings management program at SAIC back in 1994, long before the term “strategic meetings management” had been coined. Now, with the program firmly established, she and her team are saving between 10 percent and 20 percent of total meeting spend annually.

A-ha Moment

Early in her career, she managed the meetings team that supported NASA under SAIC's contract with the space agency. Yet, despite her successes in that role, she recognized that her department could do more for the company: “I had a strategic vision, and I knew that there was a place for the meetings department to be a centralized organization.” She transferred into the travel organization to begin developing an SMMP enterprise-wide. “We didn't have a name for it at the time,” she recalls. “We were just calling the process ‘centralization’ or ‘consolidation.’”

Success Story

Among her greatest accomplishments are co-chairing the Groups & Meetings Committee of the National Business Travel Association and working on the task force that is developing a Strategic Meetings Management Certification (SMMC) program.

Forward Thinking

She and her team are embarking on an initiative to streamline the payment process for meetings in order to track payments and reconciliations through the meetings technology system. In addition, she hopes to have the company's online booking tool for air ticketing integrated with the meetings technology platform by early next year.

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Debbie Andersen
Senior Manager, Americas Meetings & Conventions
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
Deerfield, Ill.

Past

Debbie Andersen began her career at Dade Behring in 1997 as an administrative assistant in the sales organization, moved into the meetings department 18 months later, and took the reins of that department in 2005 as manager of meetings and conventions. Two years and one corporate acquisition later, Andersen assumed her current role as senior manager, Americas meetings & conventions, for Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Cred

Andersen has been instrumental in developing the company's SMMP, having implemented online registration and centralized sourcing and planning of meetings. She also led the development of a mobile marketing program used throughout the United States and Canada, which has been an invaluable tool for sales reps in demonstrating the company's equipment.

Success Story

At Dade Behring, she helped steer her department through bankruptcy and reorganization and then total corporate integration when the company was acquired by Siemens. “Keeping a positive attitude and continuing to move forward as you go through those major changes as a corporation was a big accomplishment,” she says. Through branding changes, integration challenges, and organizational shifts, Andersen has managed to bring her team together and provide a cohesive structure for meetings management within their new division of Siemens.

Forward Thinking

Andersen and her team have been focusing on a green meetings initiative for the past year that incorporates environmentally and socially conscious efforts while maintaining cost efficiencies. So far, they have worked with hotels to donate excess food, conserve energy, and reduce material use and will be expanding on these efforts in the future. Other goals include creating metrics for the meetings she manages and proving the return on objective for each event.

Advice

“Regardless of whether you are on the planner or supplier side, take time to create and develop partnerships,” says Andersen. “That is something I pride myself on, and it works to everyone's benefit. This industry is smaller than you think, and the knowledge out there is unbelievable. Share what you know with others and be open to suggestions and improvements.”

Lynn Averill
Second Vice President,Travel & Conferences
National Life Group
Montpelier, Vt.

Past

When Averill joined National Life of Vermont (now National Life Group) as a high-school graduate in 1973, one of her first tasks was making name badges and registration packets for Warren Nash, the company's conference planner. (Nash was one of the founders of the Insurance Conference Planners Association, now FICP.) “I remember it like it was yesterday,” she says. “We took 1,076 people to the Acapulco Princess. I thought it was fascinating.” She was promoted to director of the department in 1990, and then to second vice president in 2004.

Cred

Her company named a new CEO in November 2008 and hired a new CMO in February 2009. With the new leadership has come a corporate reorganization and scrutiny of conferences. Some programs that became redundant in the new structure were eliminated while others were combined. Averill participated fully in the discussions.

Giving Back

Averill was elected to the FICP (then ICPA) board of directors in 1998 and became the association's president in 2001. “I saw a need for more cohesiveness between the planner board and the hospitality partners committee,” she says of the group. “I wanted to make a difference.” She now serves on FICP's Membership Committee.

Advice

“In this business, relationships are critical,” says Averill, who is known among suppliers for her openness and integrity. “It helps when you're in the planning stage, it helps on site, and it helps when you have issues to deal with, whether it's attrition or a service problem.”

M. Theresa Breining, CMP, CMM
President & CEO
Concepts Worldwide
Carlsbad, Calif.

Past

In the meetings industry since 1976, Terri Breining founded Concepts Worldwide in 1988. Concepts Worldwide is a meeting management firm specializing in ROI measurement, consulting services, and strategic meetings management.

Cred

The Convention Industry Council recently announced Breining's nomination to the Hall of Leaders, a tribute to her long career of innovation and volunteerism. She was chairwoman of Meeting Professionals International in 2003-2004 and has served on CIC's Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) Commission since 2000, now as commission chair, leading the effort to establish industry best practices and voluntary standards. In addition to the Hall of Leaders nomination, she has been recognized with such honors as MPI's International Planner of the Year award in 2000 and EIBTM's International Personality of the Year award in 2008.

Forward Thinking

Breining is an activist for the growing professionalism of the meeting industry. As a co-author of Return on Investment in Meetings and Events (with Jack J. Phillips, PhD, and Patricia Pulliam Phillips, PhD, of the ROI Institute), published in 2007, and a member of the first ROI certification workshop for the meetings industry, she's been an evangelist for the importance of measuring the success of meetings. “Implementation of an ROI measurement system gives us the ammunition to make a business case for meetings,” she says, “and then gives us the information to make good, solid decisions about whether the meeting is working, and where its greatest value exists.”

Giving Back

In January, Breining, on behalf of her company, accepted the Professional Convention Management Association's Spirit Award, which goes to a meetings industry organization that stands out for its community service. Concepts Worldwide has a program called Concepts Acting Responsibly for the Environment and Society (CARES) through which it coordinates internal office environmental efforts; philanthropic staff activities, such as helping out with the Special Olympics and participating in charitable walks and beach cleanups; and supporting clients who want to build social responsibility into their meetings. Also, Concepts has long been a training ground for interns, but it set up a special intern program in 2008 as part of its 20th anniversary celebration. Called “20/20 Vision for the Future,” the program's goal was to give 20 people hands-on meeting planning experience in a corporate environment.

Louann Cashill,
CMP, CMM
Meeting Services Manager
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.
Torrance, Calif.

Past

After working for Amgen, whose meeting and trade shows department helped to pioneer the practice of strategic meetings management, Cashill spent a year as director of production for motivational speaker Tony Robbins, where she gained experience planning seminars internationally. She joined Toyota more than three years ago, and was quickly tapped to head the meeting services group, in order to focus more on SMMP systems and processes.

Cred

In the span of 18 months, during 2007 and 2008, the number of meetings for which Cashill's department did the sourcing and contracting increased by more than 300 percent.

Success Story

Effectively getting the word out about SMMP has been half the battle for Cashill. To do so, she presented a series of nine one-hour forums to deliver the message to meeting sponsors throughout the company about the benefits of sourcing and contracting through the meeting services department. One key to her success: allowing meeting sponsors to keep their meeting logistics responsibilities but still tap into Cashill's department for hotel sourcing.

Forward Thinking

After an internal study showed that fees on canceled meetings were twice as likely to be applied to future meetings if the contract was negotiated through the meetings department, Cashill's department expanded its key indicator reports sent to senior management to highlight those statistics. In addition to tracking cost savings and cost avoidance on things like hotel rooms and food-and-beverage minimums, reports include cost avoidance on cancellation, attrition, and rebooking clauses.

Advice

For companies getting an SMMP off the ground, persistence is key. “First of all, don't give up. You have to have drive.” Understand your company culture and anticipate the roadblocks. “Get out from behind your desk and get buy-in.”

Kari Kesler
President and Chief Strategist
KK Strategic Solutions
Minneapolis

Past

Kesler assisted Honeywell in building its business case for an SMMP prior to joining the company in October 2004. She spent the next four years building and managing its global program, securing over $55 million in centralized meeting spend. She recently left Honeywell to start her own consultancy, KK Strategic Solutions.

Cred

Kesler is one of the power players of the National Business Travel Association, where she has served in various roles for more than a decade, most visibly with the Groups & Meetings Committee. She was named to NBTA's board of directors in 2006, and she is currently leading the development of the Strategic Meetings Management Certification (SMMC), which will roll out at NBTA's annual convention in August. In addition, she has worked with the Convention Industry Council on its APEX educational advisory board.

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Success Story

Kesler says work with NBTA in this arena has been the most rewarding of all her accomplishments. In this role, she helped developed several SMMP-related models, including Strategy by Event Type and Spectrum of Event Complexity, that help startup programs grow. “It has been great to see the impact on the industry of NBTA's pioneering vision and work in this space,” she says.

Advice

“Don't focus on the ‘C-suite.’ Careers in this industry are diverging into specific skill sets, including SMMP, meeting architecture, and strategic meeting planning and delivery — to name a few. The time is now to understand your own value proposition, educate yourself accordingly, and carve out a position that maximizes what you bring to the table. There has been so much emphasis in the industry on getting in front of the executive level that, at times, we have missed the chance to have our work speak for itself. I am confident that a premature seat across from your CEO will hinder your personal progress and the potential for your program, while a seat earned as the result of indisputable and measurable success will be well worth the wait.”

Susan Lichtenstein
Director of Travel and Global Meeting Solutions
Cisco Systems Inc.
San Jose, Calif.

Past

Lichtenstein has spent the past 25 years in both the travel and meetings industries, including stints as an executive vice president for a meeting technology company and vice president of corporate markets for a global meetings company. She joined Cisco as a director of finance, then moved into her present role. “Meeting spend is the third largest indirect spend in a company,” she says. “It's exciting to have the opportunity to manage this spend and achieve significant savings for the company, while meeting the company's initiatives and goals and transforming the attendee's experience, all at the same time.”

Cred

She has been a member of NBTA and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives for more than 10 years and wants to get more involved in the creation of the SMMC (the SMMP certification being developed by NBTA). At Cisco, she is in the process of developing an SMMP, along with the events and marketing divisions.

Success Story

Lichtenstein is proud to have played a role in advancing the industry: “I've had the opportunity help develop the meeting technology business, and now I'm helping to build out the SMMP process. I've been very fortunate to work among the best and the brightest in this business.”

Advice

“There's no better time then now to present to your executive teams the value of an SMMP and the savings you can achieve. Lead the opportunity, take risks, and forge ahead to greatness in your field.”

Kathy Lieberman
Manager, Event Management
GlaxoSmithKline
Philadelphia

Past

Despite getting her start as a journalism major in college, Lieberman knew early on that she wanted a career in meetings. She has been in the events industry for the past 35 years — 28 of which have been at GSK — and has seen the company and her role grow significantly. When SmithKline Beecham merged with Glaxo Wellcome in 2000 to form GSK, Lieberman and her staff of one quickly became a cross-campus team of 10. She has been heading up the event management team in Philadelphia and Research Triangle Park, N.C., for the past five years.

Cred

Lieberman was instrumental in getting an SMMP off the ground at GSK after the merger. She worked closely with the meetings team on the Glaxo Wellcome side to find commonalities and best practices and form a cohesive structure for the program. Now, she is focused on partnering with procurement to manage the supplier base, improve savings, and leverage total spend. The team, working under an outsourcing model, has a preferred hotel program for all meetings conducted in the U.S. and also uses preferred suppliers for group air, event management, and venue sourcing.

A-ha Moment

One day Lieberman got a call from an admin who had signed a contract for a meeting and was stuck with a huge cancellation fee. It was a defining moment. “That was a real wake-up call for us as a team,” she says. “Even though we handled bigger programs, we could provide help to others with smaller meetings. We needed a higher, more strategic view of our total meeting package — not just the ones we had our hands on.”

Forward Thinking

The event management team at GSK is taking a hard look at virtual meetings. “New technology will give us opportunities to shorten meetings or have more frequent meetings while minimizing the travel component.” Her team is working with its internal production team and meeting sponsors to integrate virtual components into meetings.

Donna Foppoli-Patrick, CMP, CMM
Manager, Group Meetings, Events, and Travel
Medtronic
Minneapolis

Past

Foppoli-Patrick came to Medtronic in 2001 as a meeting planner in the company's CardioVascular business unit in Santa Rosa, Calif., and soon was promoted to manager of her department. In 2007, she was promoted again and moved from California to Medtronic's world headquarters in Minneapolis to develop, launch, and manage its SMMP. She has been in the meetings industry for 17 years.

Cred

Foppoli-Patrick created a meetings advisory board comprised of internal senior-level planners and managers from various divisions in the company. “I have involved them along the way and asked for their feedback on the improvements we make,” she says. She is now considering an international meetings advisory board to assist with her team's effort to expand the SMMP globally, which is expected to launch in 2011.

Success Story

Early in her career, Foppoli-Patrick developed a business plan as part of her CMM certification that detailed improvements she would make to the meetings management process in her business unit. She gave a copy to senior execs and, as a result, was promoted to manager of the meetings team for that division and given the green light to begin implementing her ideas.

Giving Back

She is president-elect of the Minnesota Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, and still finds time to mentor four Medtronic employees who are interested in getting more involved in meetings management. “We try to meet quarterly to check in and discuss their career paths and what they can be doing to advance in this industry.” She has encouraged them to get involved in their local MPI chapter, network with colleagues, and attend industry conferences.

Advice

“Be like a sponge and soak everything up. I am still learning. You don't just become an expert one day after doing this.”

Angie Pfeifer, CMM
Assistant Vice President, Corporate Meetings, Travel & Incentives
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Past

Pfeifer has been with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. for 25 years, having worked in meetings since 1990. Within two years of joining that department, her boss left the company. “At the time, senior management was considering bringing in someone else from our sister company in the short term to manage the meetings department until they replaced my boss. I asked them to allow me the opportunity to demonstrate what I could do, and if in three months they weren't happy, they could find a replacement.” She got the job, and today her department consists of seven people.

Cred

Pfeifer's work has earned her a visible role in MPI, where she was involved in the Corporate Circle of Excellence from 1999 to 2002 and has served on the international board of directors since 2002 and the executive committee for the past five years. She is also chairing MPI's Executive Advisory Council, whose goal is to “identify resources that global meeting executives need in order to be successful in a changing industry.”

Success Story

In 1999 — during her maternity leave — Pfeifer developed a business plan to consolidate corporate travel and meetings. “At that time, they were reporting to the CFO. I had to take the risk and demonstrate the value in consolidating the purchasing of meetings and allowing me to hire someone from outside the company from the hotel industry to assume that role.”

Advice

“My success today is driven in part by who I am and my passion for this industry, but also that I took the time to think and lead. Don't wait for it to come to you — you make the outcome happen.”

Marybeth Roberts, CMP
Director of Global Meeting Management
Amgen
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Past

Marybeth Roberts has taken on an increasingly strategic role at Amgen in the nine years since she came on board (after 17 years with Procter & Gamble). In January, she was promoted to director of global meeting management. She reports to global strategic sourcing, which gives her team significant visibility within the organization.

Cred

Roberts was brought to Amgen to help consolidate meetings companywide, having previously spearheaded that initiative for the pharmaceutical division of P&G. In January 2008, she was part of a team that presented an opportunity analysis to senior management realigning the meetings team and consolidating meetings across the organization. The team received approval, and Roberts worked with Amgen's sourcing department to create an operational structure for the newly formed global meetings management team, which was rolled out last year. She worked with the sourcing department to create an SMMP policy, which includes preferred suppliers, a meeting registration platform, and outsourced meeting logistics.

Giving Back

About three years ago, Roberts spoke at the Pharmaceutical Meeting Management Forum (co-organized by CMI sister publication Medical Meetings) for the first time. “That is when I realized that we had a great story that people really wanted to hear.” The experience was eye-opening as she realized the benefits of stepping outside her comfort zone and sharing her story.

Tom Tolvé
Senior Manager of Meeting Operations
Novo Nordisk
Princeton, N.J.

Past

Tolvé got his start on the hospitality side of the business as a convention services manager before pursuing a career in meeting planning. He came to Novo Nordisk in 2002 from Bristol-Myers Squibb, and three years later began the drive to implement the company's SMMP.

Cred

Tolvé has led Novo Nordisk's SMMP through various evolutions since its inception and boasts a 15 percent savings on average for meetings booked through the program. Over the past four years, Tolvé and his team have forged strong partnerships with the procurement, compliance, and legal departments to develop policies on everything from registering meetings and using preferred suppliers to tracking data and ensuring compliance with the ever-changing regulatory guidelines for pharma companies.

Success Story

Last March, he oversaw the planning of Novo Nordisk's largest program ever — a national sales meeting for 2,800 employees, two-and-a-half years in the making. “When the opening general session started, I welled up a little bit with tears,” says Tolvé. “I got caught up in the emotion of seeing that program come to fruition.”

Another accomplishment has been generating revenue through his department. He has negotiated preferred supplier agreements that stipulate Novo Nordisk will get rebates for using these vendors. Also, when his team uses third-party logistics suppliers, they split hotel commissions with the company.

Forward Thinking

Tolvé has his sights set on small meetings that come in below the minimum requirements for using his department. “We're looking into a small-meetings tool to get a tighter capture on that spend,” he says.

Alice Woychik
Director of Meeting Solutions
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.
East Hanover, N.J.

Past

Although she has spent the past 10 years in the meetings industry, Woychik got her start as an accountant for a technology company. She eventually moved into marketing, where she was responsible for planning events — and she hasn't looked back.

Cred

When Woychik joined Novartis two years ago, she noticed that despite the high level of expertise contained within the meetings department, meeting managers were only being asked to perform logistical services for clients and were not able to use their skills to influence decisions. Within six months, she had reorganized the entire team into an account-management structure, where meeting managers act as liaisons between preferred third-party logistics planners and internal meeting sponsors. “We used that new structure as a jumping-off point to say, ‘As account managers, we're advisers. We are the experts, so let us advise you.’” She has also implemented preferred-supplier agreements, as well as a supplier relationship management model, which was rolled out in 2008.

Success Story

One of her most memorable moments at Novartis came when she and her team pulled off a product launch for 3,200 attendees with just 10 days' lead time. They put their partnerships with suppliers to the test and came up with some truly creative solutions. The product launch was a success and — nearly two years later — is still viewed as model for other launches at the company.

Forward Thinking

Woychik is leading a cross-operational team tasked with rolling out a new technology solution and developing a new process for capturing and reporting on physician spend data in order to comply with increased regulations in the pharma sector. The new operational structure for data reporting is expected to launch later this year; the technology solution will go live in July.

Advice

“You don't have to be in a leadership position to bring new ideas to the table. Always look forward to the next thing and push the envelope, and you will differentiate yourself and your organization.”

Dan Young, CMP
Director of Event Planning & Field Recognition
Thrivent Financial
Minneapolis

Past

Young started his career as a financial planner, then joined Lutheran Brotherhood as a sales trainer. He rose to regional sales manager and then AVP of field services in 1994, at which point his involvement with conferences began. In 2002, after the merger of Lutheran Brotherhood and its competitor Aid Association for Lutherans, Young was asked to create a combined events department for the new company — Thrivent Financial. He has led that department ever since.

Cred

Young has run his department using SMMP principles since 2002, before “SMMP” was common parlance. And he continues to innovate, using his perspective on the company's annual events calendar to push for a change in the strategic planning calendar. The change ensures that the company's strategic direction and messaging is set before the annual national sales meeting in the late fall.

Success Story

As Thrivent executives struggled with “the AIG effect” late last year, Young submitted a four-page memo in defense of the company's 2009 recognition conferences. Waiting to learn the fate of the conferences “was the most difficult thing I've had to do in my 25-year career,” Young says. Later that week, he found that the conferences would go forward.

Giving Back

Young is serving his third year on the Board of Directors of FICP. At the annual meeting in November, he will begin his term as president of the association.

Advice

“Relationships are more important than profits, especially in this economic environment. For example, we had to cut our budget for the conference we just held in Banff, and our DMC — CanTrav — really stepped up and did things beyond what we paid for so our people would have a great experience. I'm now their most loyal customer. I will bring business to them for the rest of my career.”

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How We Chose Our Changemakers

In our second annual Changemakers issue, Corporate Meetings & Incentives reached out to fellow editors at MeetingsNet, a focus group of high-profile meeting-planner readers, and members of a specially created advisory board to develop a universe of nominees. We then worked with the advisory board to narrow the list to 20 honorees. Many thanks to our board members for their efforts:

Lee Ann Adams Mikeman, VP, conference planning & special events, Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va.

Betsy Bondurant, CMP, CMM, president, Bondurant Consulting, Coronado, Calif.

Terri Breining, CMP, CMM, president, Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif.

Dianne Devitt, CMP, owner, DND Group, New York, N.Y.

Joan L. Eisenstodt, chief strategist, Eisenstodt Associates, LLC, Washington, D.C.

Julie Martinez, CMP, CMM, director, events & incentives, Lennox Industries, Richardson, Texas

Craig Ardis, CMM
Director of Global Event Management
Zimmer Inc.
Warsaw, Ind.

Past

Ardis spent 22 years as director, global special events, for Alticor Inc. in Ada, Mich. Early last year, he took his business experience to Zimmer Inc., a manufacturer of orthopedic products and instruments in Warsaw, Ind., to build its SMMP from the ground up.

Cred

Ardis serves on Meeting Professionals International's executive advisory council, formed in 2008 to help make the association more relevant to globally focused meeting executives. He was recently nominated as 2009-2010 vice chairman of finance on the executive committee of MPI's international board of directors, where he served in 2003-s2004 as vice chairman of member services. Ardis has been named to four industry advisory committees, served on the inaugural Corporate Circle of Excellence committee, was a Foundation board member of the Convention Industry Council, sat on MPI's CMM advisory committee, was chosen as MPI's Planner of the Year at the chapter level, and developed and initiated a corporate student meeting professional internship program.

Forward Thinking

Ardis is on the fast track to creating an SMMP for his new employer that will manage spend, manage the Zimmer event brand, and guide the company through the complicated regulatory environment. He spent his first year with Zimmer conducting a needs assessment for the multiple global groups managing a heavy schedule of meetings, consolidating meeting spend, and identifying the company's meeting planners' needs for training to be successful.

Advice

For people who want a career in the meetings industry, Ardis recommends finding a university with a good meetings management program or, better yet, a solid business program. “I can make a meeting planner but I can't make a good businessperson,” he says. “We're not counting coffee cups. We're managing spend and managing the brand, and we're driven by the goals and objectives of the company.”

Kim Boriin, CMP
Senior Events Marketing Specialist
Guardian Investor Services
New York, N.Y.

Past

Boriin joined Guardian in 2001 after 17 years in the restaurant industry and seven years in the professional dance world as a dancer and choreographer. “It's been a joy to apply my diverse background to the production of meetings and events.”

Cred

He has made a name for himself by serving on the Financial & Insurance Conference Planners board of directors as vice president of education for the past two years, and has developed what he calls “laser-focused educational support” for this association. This year, he is working on two live FICP events, as well as talk radio programs and webinars. He's also heavily involved with the joint initiative between the Convention Industry Council and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop green meeting standards, and he writes the “Green Boriin” blog for the American Express online community, Business Travel Connexion.

Forward Thinking

Boriin is looking forward to seeing the green meeting standards approved in the next 6 to 12 months. “Once the standards are approved, the U.S. Government's procurement department most likely will adopt these as a purchasing model for thousands of U.S. government planners around the globe,” he predicts. “This is going to create a huge demand for suppliers to be certified and approved as green partners in producing responsible, sustainable events.”

Advice

Meeting professionals “are the most talented bunch of project managers available,” he says. “So if your individual situation is challenging, take a moment to remember that you have the capability to reach out to colleagues and explore new ideas for getting the job done.”

Also: “Be well, behave, and be green.”

Jeff Calmus, CMP
Assistant Vice President, Conference & Event Planning
MetLife
New York, N.Y.

Past

Calmus spent a decade working in conference planning for a series of convention hotels before joining The New England, a life insurance company based in Boston, in 1990. He was director of conference planning there until the company was acquired by MetLife in 1998.

Cred

He and the conferences team at MetLife were out in front of the centralization trend. In the late 1990s, after a string of acquisitions, MetLife was in a centralizing mode. But even more important, Calmus says, was that the department saw a need for a more cost-effective and strategic approach to planning meetings and for more consistent recognition programs. “We took an inventory of all the meetings. Then we had to go to the business owners who had been running them and tell them we were now supporting all meetings. Some of them had to give up a little bit. But over time, we showed our value. The key was having senior-executive support. Without that, it's really an uphill battle.” Although the principles of strategic meetings management have been in place for a decade, MetLife's conference department rolled out its formal SMMP in February. “We tightened up the parameters on meeting spend and meeting sites. We had a lot of the bases covered, but we wanted a tighter wrap on it.”

Success Story

One of the goals Calmus has achieved at MetLife is to shift the department from being order-takers to being consultants. “We've become more strategic. We are accepted as a business,” he says. “We get more involved in our client's objectives, understanding what they are trying to do and making suggestions.”

Forward Thinking

He and his team are focused on evolving the meeting experience, he says, by asking, “How do we enhance the look and feel of our meetings to mirror the way people receive information today?” Qualifiers are more food savvy because of celebrity chefs and the Food Network, he adds. They watch HDTV. They have surround-sound. They communicate instantly via technology. “Looking at these factors, how do attendees experience our meetings now? Do the same motivation and recognition models apply?”

Patricia Kerr, CMP
Director, Distribution Sales Support
Manulife Financial
Waterloo, Ontario

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Past

Kerr started her career in the insurance industry holding various positions, but after about four years became bored. In 1995, she “fell into a role as a junior meeting planner for Manulife Financial and as they say, ‘the rest is history,’” she jokes. Without any formal meeting planning training, she relied on her instincts and learned on the job and eventually found she had a true passion for the industry.

Cred

As Kerr grew in her role, so too did the company's meeting planning department. She has been instrumental in developing the SMMP at Manulife, and during her tenure, meetings have gone from a “one-man show” with Kerr alone handling the company's annual incentive program to a centralized department that plans more than 300 meetings a year across all divisions of the company.

A-ha Moment

Kerr will never forget being named one of Financial & Insurance Meetings magazine's “5 Rising Stars” back in 2002. “It was at that moment, I realized the importance of vision,” she recalls.

In fact, she has continued to be recognized for her vision and drive in the industry ever since. “My election to the FICP Board of Directors was another significant marker for me,” says Kerr. “I am truly humbled by that exceptional honor.”

Giving Back

Kerr is passionate about the HopeSpring Cancer Support Centre, a facility in Ontario that helps cancer patients and their families, and dedicates much of her time to this cause. “I have been blessed to be able to use my professional skills to run both an annual golf tournament and a ‘Labor for Hope’ dinner and auction [to benefit the organization]. To date, we have been able to raise close to $100,000 for HopeSpring. Last year, I was able to involve my 10-year-old son in the golf tournament. Passing the passion for giving to my children is a joy.”

Advice

“Get involved! I have learned so much from the strong relationships I have built through years of volunteerism. One person with passion can effect change, lead, and create a greater good.”

Rosemary Mueller
Senior Meeting Planner
Weyerhaeuser Company
Federal Way, Wash.

Past

Mueller began her career with Weyerhaeuser as a temp in 2002, bringing meeting planning and marketing skills from previous jobs at startup companies in the software industry. Now the “temp who never left” is part of a team that includes senior meeting planner Julie Merken and meeting planner Katie Mercille.

Cred

Data is the stock in trade for the Weyerhaeuser meeting team. “Data collection is one of those things people sometimes scratch their heads over,” she says, but statistics going back to 2003 are her small department's backbone. “We can detail our analysis down to a department code. We're pretty proud of that.”

Mueller says the group would like to find dedicated meeting management software that's cost-effective and scalable, but until then, an Access database is at the heart of the data collection and reporting system.

Success Story

“I really pushed [online event registration provider] Certain Software to create a weekly report of which attendees are at off-site meetings and where,” Mueller recounts. Since 2007, that report has been delivered to corporate security each week, keeping Weyerhaeuser prepared should it need to find employees in an emergency.

And she knows first-hand that those emergencies do occur. She was in Manhattan on 9/11 and would have been in the Twin Towers herself that morning, except for a twist of fate. She remembers then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urgently trying to account for everyone in the buildings. Says Mueller of her off-site meetings report, “If you're collecting data, you should make good use of it.”

Forward Thinking

Diversification is a strength of the Weyerhaeuser meeting team, which in the past year has taken on a variety of roles assisting with the travel and hotel programs, and managing special events and after-hours activities that take place at corporate headquarters.

Honorable Mentions

Two names came up repeatedly for their outstanding contributions to the industry, but they didn't quite fit the categories or description of Changemakers we had established: Kate Lastinger, CMM, CMP, founding partner of the strategic meetings management consultancy The Metaphrasis Group, Atlanta, and Dan Parks, president/creative director, Corporate Planners Unlimited Inc., Dana Point, Calif. Said one nominator of Lastinger: “Kate has been involved in SMMP since the late nineties. Beginning in 1999 through 2006, she worked the corporate side of implementing SMMP. From purchasing software for managing meeting flow to creating full-blown systems and programs within corporate planning divisions, Kate had a front-row seat to the emerging SMMP. In 2007, in response to the confusion she witnessed, she started her own consulting firm specifically working to help bring the buyer and supplier sides together to create successful and understandable SMMP solutions.”

Parks is known for his groundbreaking work in Second Life, most recently as the creator of the Virtualis Convention & Learning Center, a virtual exhibition facility located there. “He is a true visionary, utilizing the power of social media,” said one member of our nominating panel. Congratulations to both for their outstanding contributions to our industry.

Tracey Wilt
Manager, Global Travel & Meeting Management
Xerox
Webster, N.Y.

Past

Wilt's first stint with Xerox was as an intern while she was a student at Rochester Institute of Technology. Upon graduating in 1992, she joined the company as a contract employee. After some time as the Xerox account executive for Carlson Wagonlit and two years in the corporate travel department at Lucent Technologies, Wilt was recruited back to Xerox in 1999. In 2007, she assumed her current title.

Cred

Wilt has helped to take Xerox's mature SMMP in two new directions. First, she implemented a centralized registration process for virtual meetings. More recently, Wilt's SMMP is going global. “It is now deployed in Canada, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland,” she says. Phase 2 of the expansion continues this year in Belgium, France, and Ireland. “Our estimated meeting cost savings is 15 to 20 percent, while savings from consolidating our third-party meeting management company business is targeted at 10 to 15 percent.” Wilt was tapped to share her globalization experience as a featured speaker at the Crossroads Paris Paragon Business Travel Conference & Expo in Paris in May.

Forward Thinking

She and her department have created metrics to measure supplier performance in the area of environmental responsibility. “We are working with our two U.S. meeting management companies, for example. If they get a meeting sponsor to use flash drives instead of printing handouts, if they offset any portion of the meeting from live to virtual, if they use pitchers instead of bottled water — all of those things are all tracked.”

Giving Back

Wilt is a founding co-chair of the NBTA Groups & Meetings Committee and is part of the Strategic Meetings Management Certification task force.

Advice

“Use a phased approach for your SMMP — you will never be successful trying to accomplish all your goals at once. Take one step at a time and continually look for process and productivity improvements.”