By Susan Fox, CMP
As a CMP I have committed – at least to myself – that I will be a professional. As a corporate planner, I have committed to use my training and knowledge of the industry to attack all issues that need to be addressed on a daily basis so my clients can work effectively. One of my primary focuses is on corporate partnerships.
In my industry, Food and Beverage Manufacturing, one of the first things I look at when choosing a venue is “who’s using our products?” This is a double-edged sword. The upside is, when making a decision, it reduces the choices I have. The downside is, it reduces the choices I have. So what to do?
The answer is two-fold: follow corporate loyalty and do the right thing for the right reason. Sounds simple, but is it?
I realize that am old-school when I say that you need to “dance with the one who brung ya.” So let’s talk about corporate policies. These are an absolute must – especially now – and I don’t believe they can be effective without loyalty. While I can adhere to the policy by simply asking the venue to have our products on hand, is that the intent? Does my corporation want me to meet the minimum requirement of our policy? Recently I was listening to a friend lecture and he said, “Interpret the message literally unless you can’t.” It struck me as very appropriate for his topic, but completely inappropriate for the meeting and event industry, because it blows the doors wide open for me to do whatever I want and still be marginally within corporate policy, without obligating me to also do the right thing.
If I only meet the minimum requirements of corporate policy, I am short-changing everyone. The people that pay me are trusting me to do the right thing. If I do the minimum, am I giving them what they’re paying for? How about the vendor that signs a contract to carry our products just so we can give them first priority as a venue? If they don’t normally carry our products, have I exhibited the loyalty that my corporation is asking from me as a professional? Have I held true to the ethical standards of the Certified Meeting Professional? Am I doing the right thing for the right reason?
As a planner, I receive at least eight to 10 cold calls a week, not to mention e-mail blasts that come through day after day, hotel surveys and miscellaneous invites to exotic places. I must spend a minimum of 10 minutes a day “unsubscribing” to the e-mail blasts alone. Those free lunches, FAM trips and boondoggles are very appealing. I don’t unsubscribe because I’m not interested, but because I am forever defending my time and theirs. However, I struggle with this. I value the opportunity to broaden my horizons and get exposure to new and different venues just like any other planner. But if I accept an invitation knowing full well that they are not one of our partners, then am I operating outside of corporate policy? I realize they are just doing their job, and I want to help them fill their “quota” of sales calls, but does it help anyone if I can’t use their services?
After answering these questions I know that I can only live with myself if I adhere to the policy in the spirit of which it is intended. What is that? It’s being loyal to my corporation and choosing a venue that has also chosen us. This is a give and take world. To expect to be able to take without giving simply isn’t the right thing to do. We need to be professional, step up to the plate, do the right thing and make it a true partnership between our company and our suppliers.
Corporate loyalty should produce an employee who is proud of their product and want to give back to their corporations by choosing to comply with the policy to the letter. Is that you?
Susan M. Fox, CMP, has been with Frito Lay Research & Development for 10 years and has recently begun working with the PepsiCo Global R&D teams planning global collaboration events around the world. She has a BA from the University of Texas, and is a candidate for the CMM. She is married and has two children.