In July, Amanda Armstrong, CMP, corporate travel and meetings manager for Enterprise Holdings Inc., St. Louis, begins a three-year term on the International Board of Directors for Meeting Professionals International. While there could be any number of paths to leadership in the meetings industry, Armstrong’s might be the prototype, with plenty of smart networking, volunteerism, and enthusiasm along the way.
“You look back and ask, ‘How did I get here?’ It’s networking and thinking about what makes you happy,” she says.
That’s exactly what she found herself considering in 2005 when the leisure group tour company she was working for was sold. “I thought, ‘What about this job do I love?’ I loved the travel piece—seeing new destinations, new hotels—and I also loved problem-solving, negotiating, and the hospitality industry. There aren’t a ton of industries where customer service is such a big piece of the product.”
It didn’t take long to land her first meetings job, at Success Group Inter-national in St. Louis. She was named corporate travel manager and head of meetings and events, and she soon got involved with MPI’s local chapter.
“St. Louis has a large membership and a strong chapter. I started on the education committee and ended up on the board of directors as director of media and communications. At that time, we redesigned the Web site and established our chapter’s presence on Facebook and Twitter. It was fun and challenging to roll that out.”
After two years at Success Group, she took a similar, but amplified, job at Enterprise, corporate parent of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Alamo Car Rent A Car, National Car Rental, and WeCar. Her network was also expanding, and she was invited to serve on the National Customer Advisory Board for the St. Louis Convention and Visitor Commission. There she met Kitty Radcliffe, president of the CVC, who later asked her to co-chair MPI’s 2012 World Education Conference in St. Louis. The WEC experience is what ultimately led Armstrong to apply for a spot on MPI’s international board.
“The exposure I got at the WEC event made me see MPI as a global organization. It really opened my eyes to the larger group,” she said. “I was introduced to some of the board members and got a chance to talk about where the organization is going. It’s such an exciting time.”
Armstrong hopes to use her energy to help MPI develop career resources for members. “There is an increased interest in meeting planning as a career from college graduates right now. We need to focus on this influx of grads entering the industry and looking for guidance. We need to be a primary resource, providing education, access to job opportunities, and communities, online or face to face.”
She’s also excited about the leadership search under way at MPI and isn’t shy to share who she’d like in the job: “I’ll tell you who I want. I want a visionary. Someone who has experience with change and growth, and really aims high.