Financial & Insurance Meetings: When we interviewed you just before your term as FICP president, you told us your focus would be on improving the value the association brings to members. How has FICP done that in the past year?
Wheaton: One of my goals was to bring the regions up to speed. Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, former VP, regions, and now president-elect, stepped up to help align the regionals and bring them to a level where they show value for membership. We put guidelines and processes in place. The second thing, which Jan Hennessey, CMP, CMM, former VP, communications, had a big role in implementing, was bringing FICP into the social media world. We now are on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Third, sponsorship is always evolving and Nancy Farmer, CMP, VP, sponsorship, kept in front of that this year with enhancements to our sponsorship model and the creation of new levels of sponsorship.

FIM: How did your year as FICP president benefit you personally and professionally?
Wheaton: Professionally, it gave me the opportunity to really get to know and be around true professionals in my industry and learn from them. Sometimes we get stuck in our own rut. I took so much back from everyone in my five years on the board. It’s different from the networking you do as a member of FICP because you are communicating throughout the year. You are working with strong-minded people with strong personalities, which helps you be flexible and recognize that everybody has a good opinion.Personally, I’ve always looked forward to our board meetings and to being around a great bunch of people. I try to surround myself with fun, positive people in my world.

FIM: What would you say to members who are thinking about serving on the FICP board but aren’t sure whether to go for it?
Wheaton: First of all, if anyone is interested, start the process by letting the VP of membership, Kelli Livers, CMP, know. Or get in contact with any member of the board of directors. There is a form to fill out with questions that have to do with previous FICP volunteer work. We want people who have shown commitment. Also, recognize that being on the board does not mean sitting at the table and being quiet. You must participate and have a voice. And you must be passionate about the association and want to move it forward.

FIM: What is your outlook on insurance and financial services meetings now, as we hit the halfway mark in 2010?
Wheaton: Nationwide canceled its incentive conference last year. But things are back on track. We are moving ahead but we are looking at how we spend the money differently. We are putting more resources into the actual program rather than promotion. And we are booking speakers that will help attendees grow their businesses.