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Going for the Stretch Goal

Changemaker Lori Allen took on the task of working with multiple stakeholders, lines of business, and geographies to align the management and sourcing of nine global conferences.

Lori Allen
Assistant Vice President, Global Event Management

For leading her team in a major, creative, proactive response to her company’s global growth—and forever changing how the department does business

Making Change
Our business is constantly evolving and we have become a much more global company over the past few years. Instead of reacting to this shift, our Global Event Management team wanted to proactively present solutions. In 2017, one of my major objectives was to align the timing and consolidate the buying for multiple, global incentive conferences. The goal was to improve the value of the contracts, create process efficiencies, and improve transparency on event activity. 

This was a stretch goal, as the scope of work was substantial and was taking place on various booking timelines. It included nine programs, each managed by different stakeholders within different lines of business and geographic regions. During the process, we considered more than 20 destinations for the meetings, engaging over 100 hotels. But I didn’t do it all alone; we have the best team in the business! I project-managed several other colleagues to deliver the end results. 

One critical step was the top-tier conference needed to determine its location first, allowing the decision-tree approach to take effect for the other programs. This is especially critical when you have a tiered approach to recognition. The program that is the most difficult to reach should always be the most elite and attractive. When meetings are booked on different timelines that might not always be the case, and then meetings aren’t driving the desired business results. 

Of the nine programs sourced, eight were contracted. Of those, five of the eight were placed with the same hotel chain. The three other programs were each awarded to different hotel companies. We still consider these three a success as the decisions were made based on the unique business objectives of the meeting, while still delivering value. 

Beyond the financial value of the process, which is paramount, there were other benefits of this change. Our broader planning organization now has a more aligned process. We also refined our consultative approach with stakeholders in various lines of business and regions, including showcasing opportunities to leverage our spending across the global landscape. This isn’t a one-time project but now the way we do business.

Managing Change
My best advice for managing change is to embrace it and see it as an opportunity, not a barrier. Change isn’t easy but as leaders, we should be advocates in the process. 

One of the reasons that MetLife has been in business for 150 years is the enterprise’s ability to adjust while continuing to support our customers. We apply this same approach to global event management. 

Best Advice I Ever Got
Consider the other person’s perspective, whether that means the event attendee when designing a program or the executive stakeholder when preparing a briefing. You will be a better planner and a better business partner. 

If I Have a Free Hour
My responsibilities often take me away from home, so if I had a free hour, I would definitely spend time with my family. Something simple like cooking and enjoying time together during dinner or relaxing with coffee and newspapers on Sunday morning—bliss!

Role Model
My role model in the business world is my current boss, Jeff Calmus. I’ve learned so many important lessons from him. I often find myself recounting the many anecdotes and stories from our experiences together as a way to guide my own direct reports. 

What’s Next
This year we are conducting an internal operating audit. We have so many resources and tools but want to identify the right ones, begin to use the right ones consistently, and eliminate the others. This will ultimately enhance associate productivity and improve our customer experience. 




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