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KAREN LYNCH

When Johnson Controls needed to launch an SMMP, they turned to Karen Lynch. In August 2010, she moved over from Carlson Wagonlit, where she’d served for a year as director of meetings and events, and brought with her 17 years of experience working at American Express.
Coming into an unmanaged meeting environment, Lynch had her work cut out for her. But by her one-year anniversary, her meeting program was already eight months old with its own meeting policy, sourcing protocols, a page on the company intranet, meeting-card program, risk management legal addenda, and crisis-planning procedures.

EVOLUTION A big win was that the company was implementing its Global Command Center at the same time she was establishing the SMMP. “When we stumbled on that, it helped catapult the plan,” she says. “We knew where our transient travelers were through the GDS system. But with meetings, there was no real-time data about where our people were staying.”
Lynch knew of about 140 company meetings when the project started; after the first year, the program had tracked 570 meetings in North America and Europe. The SMMP is now expanding into Asia, with plans for a Latin American rollout by 2013.

AHA! MOMENT A “hook” for her company’s leadership, she says, was her review of nine programs under way when she joined the company. “There were four different suppliers planning them. I laid out what the fees and commissions were. In just that $1.7 million in meeting spend, we were paying almost $400,000 in fees, with no real savings to speak of.

ADVICE Lynch practices yoga three times a week and recently completed a yoga teacher certification program. “It keeps you calm. When you have good energy and you know how to treat people and can see things from all different angles, people want to work with you.” - Sue Hatch