Six senior-level insurance and financial services meeting professionals were among 20 individuals recognized recently by FIM sister magazine Corporate Meetings & Incentives as industry leaders “advancing their roles beyond logistics to focus on strategy and ROI.”

Among the honorees are current Financial & Insurance Conference Planners President Patricia Kerr, CMP, director, distribution sales support, Manulife Financial; and FICP Past President Debbie Boschee, CMP, vice president, conference and meeting services, Prudential Financial. They were joined by industry veterans Kelli Livers, CMP, director, global meeting services, AIG Inc.; Kathy Rust, vice president, corporate meetings and events, Washington Mutual Inc.; Barry Wolpa, vice president, meeting and incentive trips, Genworth Financial Inc.; and Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, vice president, meeting and event marketing, NFP Insurance Services.

What distinguishes these individuals is their success in gaining visibility with senior management in their companies by initiating strategic meetings management programs, developing companywide policies and practices, leveraging volume, and maximizing savings.

In the space of three years, for example, Zint had centralized his company's meeting-planning department and implemented ongoing strategic meeting management initiatives. “When I first moved into management, one of my greatest challenges was letting go of meeting logistics and transitioning into thinking and acting strategically,” he says. “Now, SMMP is my day-to-day priority, while empowering my team members to do what they do best.”

Equally impressive, after joining Washington Mutual in 2005, Rust implemented an SMMP that including formalizing the use of technology, developing a preferred-vendors program, collecting data, and establishing more effective communications.

Boschee helped to begin the centralization of Prudential's meetings operations in 2000, leading to the formation of a centralized meetings department in 2002. “Someone once told me that you need to underpromise and overdeliver,” she says. “Everyone in my department has that posted on their computer monitors.”

Manulife's Kerr and AIG's Livers were both written up for their best practices in FIM cover stories: “Growing Motivation,” in the May/June 2007 issue and “Tomorrow, The World,” in the November/December 2007 issue. “You need to have a passion for this profession,” says Kerr. “There are going to be days when you are up at 5 in the morning and don't go to bed until 3 the next morning. . .developing that passion is what will separate the good from the not-so-good planners.”