Kim Pickering, CMP
Manager, Meeting and Conference Management
Manulife Financial
Waterloo, Ontario

FICP 2011 Board Member

What is your current job description?
My team of four conference planners and three event coordinators and I are responsible for all meetings for the Canadian division of Manulife Financial. We champion sales and strategic initiatives by delivering successful educational offerings, meetings, and incentive conferences that enable our stakeholders to network, educate, and promote Manulife and drive sales. I am also responsible for the growth and development of my team.

What have been the benefits of FICP membership for you?
I joined FICP immediately after I started with Manulife Financial, just over three years ago. I had heard nothing but wonderful things from my new colleagues regarding FICP’s networking opportunities, and I would say that networking with peers and building relationships with hospitality partners are the biggest benefits I have received from my membership. It is amazing how quickly you can build strong, lasting relationships.

Why did you decide to volunteer your time as a board member?
I had seen how fulfilling the experience had been for another member of my team, Patricia Kerr, who served on the board and as president. I wanted to be able to assist in the development of the association and to share a Canadian perspective on issues or challenges that are raised. I also wanted to give back to an association that has truly helped in my development with Manulife. This is a great opportunity for me to develop skills in areas such as strategic management, presentations, and networking.

What are you most excited to help with during your term on the board?
I have been asked to work with Kelli Livers and the Membership Committee. As a Canadian, I’m excited to work with the committee and the Canadian Region Chair, Jeff Leggett, to look at ways we can build our Canadian membership.

What is the biggest current challenge for meeting planners?
To do more with less. Although we have seen an increase in budgets and spending, staffing levels are not yet where they were prior to the economic downturn. We are constantly asked to wow attendees and to exceed their expectations; however, we are asked to do this with the same number of people, or even fewer, putting extra pressure on the team to work smarter, not harder.

What is one great piece of advice you’ve received?
“This business is all about relationships!” We rely on relationships in all aspects of our jobs. We work with hospitality partners when looking for venues, we rely on the experiences of other planners when discussing themes, speakers, or creative ideas. Without the relationships we build through associations such as FICP, our jobs would be a lot more difficult.