You just attended the 2011 FICP Annual Conference. What was most valuable for you and why?
For me, it’s always about networking—not only with the hospitality partners, but also with my fellow meeting planners. The Planners Exchange was a standout for me this year. We took a long, hard look at how this group spends their time together each year and decided it was time to change up the program and allow for more business discussion as a large group and then time in small groups to discuss current trends. The new format was extremely well received with the only complaint being we didn’t have enough time!

What do you see as your biggest meeting planning challenge in 2012, and how will you meet that challenge?
The biggest challenge has been, is, and will continue to be, doing more with less—less staff and less money—combined with the expectation from senior management that the quality of our events will still be done with the same integrity as when we had more staff and more money. In 2011 the reins were loosened a bit from the previous two years of recession, and companies started putting meetings back on their platform. But as we move through 2012 and 2013, companies are focusing on stronger expense-management initiatives to improve their overall revenue picture. This is an area that rating agencies are focusing on within the financial and insurance industry. If companies want their ratings to change to a more positive outlook, they need to manage expenses to show stronger revenue growth. It is an exhausting endeavor for planners to meet these challenges, and we are relying on each other more and more when it comes to sharing ideas and best practices so we can be successful. We also rely heavily on our hospitality partners to help negotiate contracts that allow for highly productive and cost-effective meetings.

What are you most looking forward to as the 2012 chair of FICP?
I am so excited about this opportunity! Being on the board has been one of the best experiences of my professional career. I hope I can inspire a collaborative environment that allows us to roll up our sleeves and get down to the business of making sure this association is around for another 50 years! We have solid initiatives on the platform and we are moving full steam ahead on a new and improved Web site, a redesign of NewsNet, some creative membership recruiting initiatives like the FICP Social program, plus a revamped educational platform that will demonstrate cohesiveness among our regional meetings, Education Forum, and Annual Conference. We also continue to focus on our sponsorship platform, and we are committed to making sure we meet the needs of those who support us so diligently every year.

What is one great piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Be kind to everyone, but never be a fool.