How long have you been FICP’s executive director and what do you see as your most important role?
I have served as executive director since May 2004, when the Insurance Conference Planners Association (now Financial & Insurance Conference Planners) moved its office to Chicago under the management of SmithBucklin Corp. I have worn many hats during this period. Unquestionably, the most important role is that of relationship manager, whether it be working with planner members, leader volunteers on the board, the Hospitality Partner Advisory Council, the media, allied associations, or our loyal sponsors. Ours is a relationship business, and the foundation of FICP’s success is the quality of relationships it fosters.

How do you balance FICP’s tradition with its need to be relevant to today’s meeting professionals?
The one critical, unwavering value that FICP will not compromise is its commitment to a balanced ratio of hospitality partners to meeting planners at all face-to-face events. Typically, the ratio is 1.5:1 and it rarely exceeds 2:1 partners to planners. This balance ensures a high level of quality in personal interactions, whether they be planner to planner or buyer to seller. FICP also is steadfast in its commitment to deliver education and professional development opportunities to help planners grow and enhance their value throughout their careers.

What do you see as the greatest challenge and opportunity for FICP as we head into 2012?
Time is perhaps the greatest challenge, as everyone everywhere is being asked to do more with less. This dynamic is not going to change anytime soon. FICP will need to continue to demonstrate its value and prove its ROI to planners and hospitality partners alike. We have tremendous momentum as an association, which means that now is the right time to maximize membership growth, step into the leading edge of technology, and make a more significant contribution to the larger meetings and events industry.

As part of a much larger association management organization, what perspective do you have on the meetings industry as a whole?
Every day, I get the opportunity to benchmark FICP’s business with that of other trade associations and professional societies. Everyone who works on the FICP staff also works for another association of some kind. We routinely share our ideas and experiences with each other—what works and what doesn’t. At the same time, FICP benefits from economies of scale. We don’t have to re-create the wheel when trying something for the first time. Chances are, in our environment, someone has been in a similar situation. We can shorten our learning curve and hopefully avoid making the same mistakes that others have already learned from.

What is one great piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Check your ego at the door. This business isn’t about you; it’s about others. Always be yourself, always try your best, and never, ever surprise the boss!