Some of the buzz at the 2010 FICP Annual Conference concerned the retirement of two longtime FICP members who also happen to be two of the nicest guys in the business: Ken Pickle and Michael Key.
Ken Pickle, CMP, CPCU, retires from Safeco Insurance/Liberty Mutual after nearly 34 years on the job, starting in media services. “My first big meeting was December 1980,” he recalls. “In May 1981, I was asked to be the technical director for our incentive conferences. I guess they liked the job I was doing, as I did that for 12 years.” He moved into meetings management full time in 1992, just after attending his first (then ICPA) Annual Conference in November 1991. “It’s always exciting to see a program through from start to finish and have attendees say, ‘I’m going to work my tail off to qualify for this conference next year,’” Pickle says. He also appreciates how much he has learned from fellow FICP members, always checking with them first when he considers a new meeting location. “And the education at the forum and annual conference have always been wonderful.”
What might surprise you is that after more than six years on active duty as a Naval Flight Officer (including combat support missions in Vietnam), Pickle served for 22 years in Naval Reserve Intelligence. His last tour was as commander of all Naval Reserve Intelligence Units in the Pacific Northwest.
He served a term on the FICP board from 1996 to 1999, during the height of his Naval career. And longtime readers might remember his 12-year stint as AV columnist for Financial & Insurance Meetings magazine (beginning when the magazine was still called Insurance Conference Planner).
Pickle hopes to share his meeting planning knowledge as a consultant or teacher in his retirement, along with pursuing hobbies such as basketball, bird-watching, photography—and a few home projects as well.
Michael Key, CMP, started his insurance career in 1975 as an agent with Public Savings Insurance Co. He went on to hold several management positions and was promoted to agency secretary in 1984, which is when he began his conference planning career. (In 1989, the company was acquired by Providian Corp., which was then acquired in 1997 by AEGON Insurance Group, which included Monumental Life Insurance.)
“I believe my experience as an agent and manager in the insurance business helped me become a successful insurance conference planner,” he says. “I understood what an associate had to accomplish to qualify for an incentive meeting, and the importance of the manager’s meeting to set annual sales goals. I had walked in their shoes.” He drew on that experience whenever he got ready to design a meeting program. “My reward was when associates returned meeting evaluation forms and stated that the conference was worth all the long hours they had to work and sell to qualify,” he says.
Key calls joining FICP (then ICPA) in 1989 “one of the smartest professional moves I made in my career. I received an enormous amount of meeting-planning education that you can’t get anywhere else. The networking with my peer planners and hospitality partners was invaluable.” Key served a three-year term on the FICP board of directors, beginning in 2000.
“As I head into the retirement years of my life, I am fortunate to have many fond memories of planning experiences and friendships that will last a lifetime,” Key says. “After I complete quite an extensive ‘Honey Do’ list, maybe then I can finally spend some relaxing time at our beach home in Charleston, S.C.!” Key is a 1973 graduate of The Citadel, and served four years in the U.S. Air Force, including a tour in Vietnam.