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Manager, Meeting Services and Global Sourcing, Underwriters Laboratories, Northbrook, Ill.

PAST Johnson has always been the only titled meeting planner at her company; many meetings are planned by ad hoc planners. After she had been planning for several years and obtained her CMP, “I started to see that there was a bigger picture to what I was doing,” she says. “That’s when the concept of strategic meetings management was being introduced and I finally had a name and a general road map for what I wanted to achieve for my company.”

CRED To earn her CMM, Johnson had to write a business plan, so she decided to make it an SMM business plan for her company. “I received the designation, but also received this wonderful gift—my business plan,” she says. “I use it all the time.”

FORWARD THINKING While many meeting managers starting an SMMP focus on purchasing and contracting issues, Johnson is taking things further. “Purchasing and contracting are where I am starting, but my end goal, for certain meetings, is to better the entire process, including meeting design. I am currently working on a project to redesign one of our meetings so that the attendees are engaged year-round. The meeting will be a part of a larger process and will be one engagement—but not the only one—along the way. This speaks to the importance of meetings in achieving the company’s goals.”

Johnson recently requested to be transferred into the global sourcing group, which has enabled her to align herself with the company’s purchasing practices and policies and share her knowledge of meetings with procurement. “It gives my role more credibility that I am the ‘global sourcing specialist’ for meetings,” she says. “The staff can then understand that I am here to help them save time, money, and risk, and that meetings sourcing is just like the sourcing process for any contract or purchase.”

A-HA MOMENT “When first I heard the concept of ‘co-creation’ from Teri Breining [the founder of Concepts Worldwide who now runs her own consulting company, the Breining Group], she said it means taking the phrase, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and making it, ‘If you build it with them, they are already there.’

“I’ve used this concept to garner support from the bottom up by starting an SMM advisory committee composed of my company’s many ad hoc planners. Instead of telling the staff what an SMM is, they can help me define what will work best for them and succeed in our culture.”

ADVICE “SMM is a journey, not a destination. You can never put a stake in the ground and say, ‘Mission accomplished.’ The project itself has so many complexities, not to mention our ever-evolving industry.”—Barbara Scofidio