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New Age Old-School: Pick Up the Phone!

How Allergan’s Brian McArdle, 2018 Changemaker, builds bridges with the personal touch.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Brian McArdle
Senior Manager, Global Procurement, Meeting/Conference Sourcing

For bringing the personal touch to the strict world of global procurement

Business Strategy
Though face-to-face interaction is tops, the most effective yet under-utilized technology you have is your telephone.  Technology has a place, but this is a relationship business.  Don’t be afraid of the phone.

You can accomplish so much with a simple 10-minute conversation; nothing gets lost in translation.  It can make your day longer, but taking the extra time to have honest dialogue is the sincerest form of relationship building.  We don’t have vendors—vendors sell beer at Yankee Stadium—we have partners.

Thinking Differently
I’ve been told I’m a bit unorthodox in that I am reachable, welcome in-person visits with partners, call people as opposed to sending countless emails, answer the phone when it rings and return voicemail messages… seems like professional courtesy 101 to me, but some in our business have gotten away from the basics.

What’s Next?
I reside in global procurement, where everything needs to be validated, auditable, and measurable. I’m working to change leadership’s perception of my role. Yes, I manage what is spent and saved (and the strategy behind it), but I also want them to see that the relationships I’ve developed are a tangible benefit to the company.  These relationships and collaboration with our partners may not always be measurable on paper, but they are probably the most important part of my job and what I’m most proud of.

Managing Change
My friend and former boss Connie Bocchieri “suggested” (read: made) her team read the book Who Moved My Cheese.  It’s message, to sum it up, is that everything changes and you have to adapt or you’ll be left behind.  Like Bruce Springsteen said on “Tunnel of Love”: “You’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above.” 

Best Advice
Part of Allergan’s mission statement is “We Build Bridges” but more than that, it states “We do what is right.”  If you do the right thing and treat everyone with respect, you’ll be fine.

Who’s Your Role Model?
Adrian Drew, Executive Director, Sales Operations, COE, Allergan.  He gave me the opportunity to move from the third-party world to the corporate side, giving me the keys to the company’s venue sourcing shop and letting me run with it.  He empowered me to do what I thought was in the best interest of the company.  He has a total 360-degree view of the industry, is well respected internally and in the meeting world, and is tough and fair and transparent and ethical.  He is a dear friend and a colleague and a mentor who likes to work hard and play hard; just like I do.  We’re aligned in every way. Though he’s not my boss anymore, he’ll always be a trusted colleague and the best boss I’ve ever had.

Got a Spare Hour?
If it’s summer, I’m probably sitting in the sun and having a few beers and reading the paper, preferably at the beach.  But if I’ve got spare time at work, I’ll take the time to go and visit with someone I work with but don’t necessarily see each day. 




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