Patricia Kerr, CMP, joined Financial & Insurance Conference Planners in 1995, the same year she launched her meeting planning career at Manulife Financial. She is currently director, distribution sales support at Manulife, responsible for meeting and conference management, rewards and recognition, and divisional project management. She was elected to theboard of directors in 2005 and will take the lead as FICP President in 2008.
What has changed about FICP (other than the name) since you became a member?
A: The association has not only grown in size, but also in resources, complexity, and professionalism. The annual conference and summer education forum are testaments to a renewed focus on reaching high educational goals while at the same time maintaining the important networking events.
How has FICP membership helped you to do your job?
What I learn from my peers enables me to bring new ideas and best practices to my own organization. The relationships I develop with Hospitality Partners help me and my team to bring to our company the best hotels, locations, and value for our programs.
What motivated you to join the board of directors?
I truly believe that you get what you give. When I attended my first annual meeting in 1999, the group welcomed me with open arms and quickly taught me the benefits of active participation in the association. I joined numerous committees and design teams, became active at the chapter level, and eventually chaired the Canadian Chapter. Every activity, every second of time, taught me more than I could have imagined. Looking to the board as an opportunity was natural. I simply hoped and continue to hope that my time as a board member will be as fruitful for the association as it has been for me personally and for my career.
What are your goals for your FICP presidency?
Providing 24/7 value to the members! The Web site will become a key player in this initiative. Membership also remains a key goal. We have grown significantly over the last several years, but we still have not been able to fully tap into the financial industry.
What's the buzz about a new corporate membership opportunity?
As budgets tighten, it has become increasingly difficult for large companies with significant meeting teams to pay for all planners to become FICP members. Therefore, the board recently approved a motion to incorporate a reduced-rate corporate membership program into the 2008 renewal process.
Any other new FICP initiatives?
In addition to the Web upgrades, we are working on an initiative to provide educational sessions for financial conference planners in several key financial centers. Our goal is to get financial planners to the table in an effort to recruit, and also to gain a better understanding of what they need from an industry association.
To what do you attribute annual conference registration selling out in record time this year?
Great education! FICP has placed a renewed focus on education at all recent meetings and the word is spreading. Forty breakout sessions at this year's annual allows FICP to compete with larger associations from an educational perspective. Of course, membership growth is driving increased numbers to the annual and the summer education forum as well.
Do you foresee larger annual meeting venues in the future?
Yes, larger venues will allow us to accommodate increased numbers, but we also need to keep our 1-1.5 ratio of planners to Hospitality Partners, and maintain the ability to network.
A year from now, how would you hope to summarize your accomplishments as FICP president?
I hope I can say FICP provides members with regular touch points that make their jobs easier, and it has the best Web site in the industry in terms of offering knowledge and value-added services. I also will be thrilled if we can successfully reach out to nonmember financial conference planners.