This is one of my favorite projects of the year, choosing our annual Changemakers. As I started to look for commonalities among this year's winners, a few surfaced right away:

They love to share their knowledge: Take Amy Harris of Sun Trust. This lady is full of energy and is fun to learn from. She has put herself out there in the past year, as a member of the Global Business Travel Association’s Groups and Meetings committee, an instructor for GBTA’s strategic meetings management certification, and a speaker at the association’s joint conference with the Institute for Supply Management. We need other enthusiastic practitioners to share their SMM expertise at industry meetings—I challenge you to be one of them.

They’re likeable: In an anonymous online poll, I asked the Changemakers which three adjectives they would use to best describe themselves. And do you know which word came up the most? Friendly. The Changemakers is not a popularity contest, but let’s face it: Everyone prefers dealing with pleasant people. You won’t find attitude in this group.

They’re leaders: A number of our Changemakers are members of the Groups and Meetings Committee, including its Chair, Gigi McGrath of Stryker. They lead industry associations, like Susan Katz of True Value, the president of Professional Convention Management Association, and Mike Burke of The Hanover Insurance Group, past president of FICP (Financial & Insurance Conference Planners). And they’ve won industry awards, like Sandra Schall of Nokia Siemens, a runner-up for the 2011 Travel Buyer of the Year at the Business Travel & Meetings Show in London earlier this year. Danny Meier of Honeywell was thrilled when his accomplishments were lauded at his company’s own Procurement Leadership Meeting, where his chief procurement officer said that his SMMP was “the epitome of what we would want from any program in procurement.”

They realize there’s much more to learn: One example is Leanne Acton, CMM, of Penn Mutual. At a meeting held earlier this year, Acton says, “for the first time, I was far removed from the logistics.” Instead, she became more involved in “the strategic delivery of our messaging.” It was new territory for her—and she learned a lot. “To be so excited about my own growth after 20 years in the same career is wonderful.”

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2010 Changemakers

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