Three years after Christine Duffy became president and COO of Maritz McGettigan, parent company Maritz Travel last month appointed her president and CEO, following the resignation of CEO Jeff Reinberg.
For the time being, it is business as usual at Maritz Travel and changes are being kept to a minimum. "At this point, I'm really taking the time to learn more about the Maritz organization in St. Louis and working with our senior management team there. Basically, we will make changes based on what we think we need to better serve our customers," said Duffy, who is based in Philadelphia.
Duffy joined Maritz following the November 2001 acquisition of McGettigan Partners (Meetings Today, Dec. 3, 2001),
where she served as COO, and led the subsidiary to focus primarily on the concept of meetings consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry.
"The market trend is moving toward more meeting consolidation initiatives. In the last three years, we've certainly seen that and been able to do that with the pharmaceutical sector," Duffy said.
That focus has served Maritz McGettigan well, Duffy said, and now Maritz is starting to take that concept into other industries. "We are now seeing that same trend take hold in other sectors, like financial services, insurance and even some of the automotive companies and others that are looking at ways they can better leverage their volume and more efficiently manage meetings and events across the enterprise."
A Meetings Monitor survey of 195 corporate meeting and travel buyers, conducted by Meetings Today last year found that 23 percent of respondents had new plans to consolidate meeting expenditures in 2004 (Meetings Today, Dec. 8, 2003).
Maritz Travel is in a strong position to pick up these new customers, Duffy said. "Maritz, really, in the group travel business, is recognized as one of the largest, if not the largest, in managing meetings and events for many corporations from a variety of industry sectors."
Maritz Travel has offices or affiliates in some 1,600 locations in 60 countries and employs a staff of 1,291 professionals that handles more than 2,000 meeting and incentive travel programs a year.
Duffy said her new position is not just a personal triumph, but shows that women in the meetings management industry are starting to rise to the top. "Clearly, my appointment as president and CEO of Maritz Travel certainly goes a long way to show that there is not a glass ceiling at Maritz," Duffy said. "There has also been the appointment recently of a president for our incentives business, unit who also happens to be a woman." Jane Herod was named president of Maritz Incentives last August.
Duffy has championed leadership of women in meetings management for years. In 2001, she initiated the Women's Leadership Initiative program of Meeting Professionals International. Women make up 76 percent of MPI's membership but just 9 percent of those women hold leadership positions within their own organizations, compared to 30 percent of male MPI members, according to a 2003 research project by WLI. "The demographics are pretty consistent that women do hold the majority of positions in our industry but probably not the same proportion of leadership positions across our industry," Duffy said.
WLI has awarded more than $84,000 in scholarships since 2002 to MPI members. WLI liaisons are in place in approximately 50 of MPI's 61 chapters.