Several companies have recently reported cuts in their meeting planning departments as the result of the one-two punch of 9/11 and the economic downturn. At Novell headquarters in Provo, Utah, the corporate events department has been cut from 30 people to eight. Insurer Firemans Fund, Novato, Cal., recently surprised the bulk of its meetings team with pink slips and will have contractors handle future programs. And at Knoll, Inc., Peggy Ohara, director of corporate events and incentives, reported that her last day will be February 1, due to "a planned restructuring of the company’s incentive program."
Still, the recession of the early 1990s eliminated more meeting-related jobs than recent events, according to recruiter Dawn Penfold, president of the Meeting Candidate Network in New York (www.meetingjobs.com). Technology and financial employers may be shrinking their ranks, she says, but pharmaceutical and medical companies remain strong, and security and defense-related businesses are expanding.