What has been the value of your FICP membership?
I joined FICP in 2000 when I began my career in meeting planning. The biggest benefit is the opportunity to network with planners who understand the financial industry and who have “walked in my shoes,” in addition to partners who understand the industry and various strategies that work best for my team and for me, as clients.

Why did you decide to volunteer as a region chair?
I began as a design team member because I enjoyed partnering with FICP. I also enjoyed attending the yearly Southeast Region meeting as a planner, with the intimate setting it presented. I looked forward to the meeting each year and the camaraderie it afforded. When the chair of the region stepped down, I jumped at the opportunity to graduate from design-team member to region chair, and I have enjoyed every moment. Working together as a team to come up with a high-impact agenda for our annual event is a great and rewarding challenge, and it offers me the opportunity to grow personally as a planner and a leader.

Why should FICP members and potential members attend regional meetings?
At regional meetings, planners can take in a great deal of information and ideas from conversations with other planners and partners in addition to the knowledge and creative ideas from the speakers. The best part of our regional meeting is the roundtable discussion, where we address different topics at several tables and are encouraged to share our ideas with the entire group. These groups have led to some creative ideas being shared and open conversation during which brainstorming and innovation begins to shine!

Based on your own experience and what you’re hearing from fellow planners, what is your outlook on meetings in 2011?
While my situation is unique, the overall consensus for 2011 is much brighter in comparison to what the financial industry went through during the past two years. It is encouraging knowing that business is picking up and gradually returning to pre-recession activity.
It is also very comforting seeing financial companies’ desire to have meetings that their respective advisers/sales forces need on an incentive and educational level. Many such advisers/sales forces at companies have been patient for a long time, but to stay current with industry trends and remain competitive, these individuals need and want to get back to work, participating in brainstorming meetings, obtaining educational credits, and being incentivized for their performance.

What is one great piece of meeting planning advice you’ve received?
Never assume.