As Financial & Insurance Meetings went to print, Meeting Professionals International was preparing for the 2006 World Education Conference in Dallas July 9 to 11, with plenty on its plate and the promise of news to come.

The search for a new CEO continues

Sandra Riggins, MPI director of governance and chief of staff, will take over the interim leadership of the organization July 1 when Mark Andrew, CMP, CHA, who took on the interim role after the departure of MPI CEO Colin Rorrie, assumes his position as MPI Chairman. Riggins will coordinate MPI's day-to-day operations until a new CEO is selected.

Andrew said in an interview shortly before he gave up his temporary responsibilities that he hopes MPI's CEO search committee will select a candidate before the end of the summer. “The quality of the applicants has been terrific,” said Andrew, who took a leave of absence as general manager of the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver, to run MPI.

New Membership Categories

MPI will divide members into five specific groups that it believes will better reflect the nature of the association's makeup.The new categories, announced in June and approved by the MPI International Board of Directors back in February, include the following:

  • corporate meeting professional

  • association/nonprofit meeting professional

  • government meeting professional

  • supplier meeting professional

  • meeting management professional

Andrew said this move “will really help us address our different members in a more personalized manner.” This goes hand in hand with MPI's recent launch of the Member Solutions program, Andrew said, with components that include My MPI, with its personalized Web page, and Professional Pathways, an individual skills-assessment and career-development service.

“MPI has a great history of education, and as a resource for knowledge,” said Andrew, adding that in determining these membership categories, MPI will be further defining the kinds of resources it can make available for different members. “An association planner, for example, doesn't need a lot of material on Sarbanes-Oxley,” explained Andrew. “But they do look for material on association governance. Let's make sure they have this information at their fingertips.”

The dues structure will be unchanged and the new categories become effective September 15.

Culture Active Activation

MPI is rolling out the Culture Active Tool at the WEC this month. A Web-based cross-cultural analysis and briefing tool, it was introduced at MPI's Professional Education Conference-Europe in Davos, Switzerland, in March.

MPI members will be able to access the tool beginning July 9, the first day of the WEC. By completing an online cultural assessment, planners will be able to compare behaviors of specific cultures and see exactly where they fit in. “This will certainly enhance the ‘I’ part of MPI,” said Andrew.

Improving Member Solutions

More than 1,700 planner members of MPI have completed skills assessments for Member Solutions. While MPI hoped to have 2,000 planners complete assessments by June 30, Andrew said the “exciting part of the process is that we are getting great feedback.”

Suggestions on how to improve features such as My Gap Reports (which help members analyze their professional skills compared to industry standards for specific jobs) are helping to make Member Solutions “much more powerful,” Andrew said.

Robust Growth for Financial Services Industry

The financial services industry gave a big hand to the American economy last year, which registered real GDP growth of 3.5 percent. According to findings released this spring by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the financial, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing industry group contributed nearly a quarter (24 percent) of real GDP growth in 2005, making it the leading contributor to GDP for the past three consecutive years. Within this group, financial services and insurance grew a whopping 6.7 percent in 2005, up from 1.0 percent in 2004.