All of Sandro Honigsberg’s career moves led to the next step, from his education at Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (his first job was washing dishes at Windows on the World) to a position managing international conventions at Novartis in Switzerland, which he left to do a two-year stint managing a ski resort (“If you get an offer like that, you don’t turn it down. You’d regret it your entire life.”)
Then it was back to corporate and to the U.S., where he took a job with Gillette managing executive meetings and the FIFA World Cup events (no doubt his international experience came in handy). Gillette was acquired by P&G eight years ago, and his role continues to grow within P&G, where he just took on global operations for one of P&G’s service lines in addition to managing strategic sourcing for meetings and events in the U.S.
“Having a combined hotel and event planning background is a unique blend to bring to purchasing,” he says. “I know how negotiations work and I understand the cost structure at hotels and what’s feasible from their side.”
ADVICE “Always put yourself in the shoes of your clients. If they’re younger, think about how they are more comfortable communicating.”
LOOKING AHEAD Honigsberg is an advocate of mandates for corporate meetings and feels strongly that companies should manage the legal, safety, and contractual elements. “When you register a meeting, it touches departments like security. In these times of homeland security and 24/7 news about disasters, it’s the right thing to do. It’s especially important with groups going to Europe and Asia; in India now, they have metal detectors in hotel lobbies.”
GIVING BACK Honigsberg was named to the GBTA Groups and Meetings Committee two years ago, and when that group was disbanded last fall, he was asked to continue as part of a subcommittee on global meetings and events.
MENTORS Katherine Georgeopoulos, a former manager (“She was always focused on servicing internal clients.”); and Diana Johantgen and Randy Block, both from P&G (“They are about making decisions that consider sustainability, like blended meetings. We now offer our internal clients virtual options.”) —Barbara Scofidio