LEADERSHIP, SAYS Tom McDonald, PhD, means “getting ahead of the curve of change.” It also means moving from a tactical perspective to a strategic perspective. From March 17 to 20, a group of about 30 planners and hospitality partners gathered at the renovated and expanded La Costa Resort and Spa (see On Location page 54) to brainstorm these topics at the 2nd Annual Insurance Educational Forum and Strategic Leadership Institute, organized by La Costa's national insurance sales manager Carole Tucker, CMP, and facilitated by McDonald.

Lively and frank discussions on topics ranging from procurement to return on investment characterized the event. McDonald put his knowledge of adult learning to work with a series of unconventional room setups (see Editor's Note, page 6) that encouraged interaction among all the participants. The tone was set by an opening session called “Strategic Planning — the Challenge of a Lifetime,” with moderators McDonald and ICP Editor Regina Baraban questioning resource panelists Sharon Chapman, CMP, CMM, Berkshire Life; Morgan Murphy, CMP, Bankers Life and Casualty; Bob Pizzute, MetLife; and Cindy Wheaton, Nationwide, on the new meetings landscape. While planners described different experiences, it was clear that many are redefining their relationships with their companies and looking for ways to measure ROI.

“It's not every conference that I leave energized and eager to implement new ideas,” said Dennis Ontaneda, director of finance administration, Aon/Worksite Solutions. He added that he left the program with a strategic action plan.