As Meeting Professionals International prepares to head into the next few years under a new, yet-to-be-named CEO, MPI Chairwoman and Maritz Travel Co. CEO Christine Duffy suggests the future could involve not only structural changes within the association, but also efforts to make MPI more global, such as through expansion into Asia.

According to Duffy, MPI, like most associations, must look beyond its traditional supplier partnerships for financial support. “We can't keep going back to that well,” she said, adding that MPI might look at nontraditional ways of tapping into corporate support such as sponsorships, and holding events beyond PEC-North America, PEC-Europe, and the WEC, such as sector or regional conferences.

In an interview during the March PEC-Europe in Davos, Switzerland, Duffy said the MPI board will look to replace former MPI head Colin Rorrie Jr. with a new CEO with broad experience in either the corporate or association world, “or a combination of both.”

In the meantime, MPI Chairman-elect Mark Andrew, CHA, CMP, has taken a leave of absence from Starwood Hotels & Resorts as general manager of the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, to lead MPI until the new president and CEO is appointed.

If a new president and CEO is not appointed by July 1, Andrew will become 2006-2007 chairman of the board as scheduled, and the board will appoint another interim chief staff executive until a new president and CEO is in place.

During the interview, Duffy acknowledged that many MPI members had been “surprised” by the suddenness of the change at the top of the association. “During our discussions with Colin in Orlando [where the board of directors met in February] everything was kept quite confidential, as it should have been,” she said. “So in an industry in which everybody usually knows about things days before they are announced, it probably did come as something of a surprise when we made our announcement.”

Duffy again stressed that Rorrie's departure did not represent MPI dissatisfaction with his job performance. In fact, Duffy said, MPI's successful completion of several initiatives such as Member Solutions during Rorrie's tenure contributed to the surprise members experienced when he left MPI.

“Everyone liked Colin, and MPI has been very successful, but we can't sit around just patting ourselves on our backs,” Duffy said. “In making this change, we had to ask ourselves what MPI needs to look like in three or five years.”