TTGassociations Publications January 2019 - Page 9

The sudden exit of ICCA’s CEO took members by surprise and highlighted the critical need for succession planning in associations, a smooth leadership transition, and clear communications to members. By Caroline Boey “When you have a strong and capable management team with a track record of con- sistently delivering results, leadership succession be- comes less of a concern as you know the organisa- tion will continue to operate successfully during the transition.” Mario Hardy ruary 2019, and the new person joining on March 1, 2019. Mario Hardy, CEO of Pacific Asia Trav- el Association (PATA), said: “When you have a strong and capable management team with a track record of consistently delivering results, leadership succession becomes less of a concern as you know the organisation will continue to operate successfully during the transition.” But he noted that associations need to ensure that its executives have a notice period long enough to adjust to the new landscape, and sufficient time with the new leadership for a proper handover. “Ideally, if at all possible, you would want both leaders to work side by side for a few months to ensure a smooth transition,” Hardy said. A clear vision for the future of the organisation, what type of experience and skill-set best fulfils that need, and what type of leader would be required to de- liver on that vision are critical, he added. “For the past few years, I had been most concerned with the financial sustainability of the organisation. As we have now stabilised the finances of PATA, my focus has shifted to the growth of the organisation and increasing the influence and its impact on the future of the travel and tourism industry.” As all associations have their own unique needs, Gary Grimmer, CEO and strategic consultant, GainingEdge, said leadership succession is an issue of board governance, to ensure there are regular opportunities for new people to serve and ensuring diverse representation in terms of geography, gender, culture and member type. “I feel that it is a good idea for as- sociations to have succession planning for their CEO, but there is never a single right answer. Some succession plans will call for the development of a designated internal successor. However, other organi- sations will find that their strategic needs change and will be seeking ‘new blood’ or people and perspectives from outside the organisation or even sometimes outside the industry in question,” said Grimmer. He added: “The other major issue that I think most associations should be fo- cused on is the question of disruption in the professions they serve and how their business models relate to that. Between creative business applications, new com- mercial models, robotics and artificial reality, there are forces that will cause disruption in most professions as well as in the associations that serve them. “Anticipating disruption and form- ing strategies to deal with it are one of the most important things associations should be talking about.” At AIPC – International Association of Convention Centres, its administration is delivered under contract rather than by dedicated full-time staff where the prin- ciples of accountability are the same, its executive director, Rod Cameron, said. “Operational continuity is the most important single issue for us as our board needs to know that there is a clear point of departure for any new administration should they elect to move in a different direction structurally. “The most important elements of succession planning for us have been to make a change in administration possible without major disruption … and that re- cords and ‘organisational history’ are also entirely up to date and readily accessible. “The membership is in fact the whole basis for the existence of any organisation – and that can sometimes be forgotten.” CEO, Pacific Asia Travel Association W hen Martin Sirk, CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) announced in late- June 2018 his exit in a month’s time, after 16 years at the helm, members across the world were taken by surprise. A familiar face, Dennis Speet who is ICCA’s chief value officer, quickly as- sumed the role of acting CEO while the association got to work in search of a replacement. Leadership change is unavoidable, acknowledged ICCA members, but told TTGassociations that a smooth transition is critical and the new leadership must recognise the needs of global members and that they are different region to region. Outgoing ICCA president Nina Freysen- Pretorius said the ICCA board would be transparent and share the profile of the CEO with members and staff, and she wanted members to share their wishes and priorities with the board. A new CEO profile was created and the job was advertised in October with shortlisting to take place in January/Feb- Foreseeable succession