ICCA welcomes new president, sets new terms for future CEO

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), which kicked off its 57th congress in Dubai on Sunday, has welcomed ExCel London’s executive director James Rees as its new president, succeeding outgoing Nina Freysen-Pretorius who completes her term this year.

Rees takes on ICCA presidency

An ICCA board director and vice president, Rees was elected over two other long-timer contenders: Eric Bakermans, director marketing meetings and conventions at Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, and Juan Jose Garcia, chief marketing officer of Bco Congress Spain.

As the association’s new chief, Rees will favour events and services adapted for every region. “A one-size-fits-all approach will no longer allow ICCA to grow its global influence. By providing each regional office with the flexibility to adapt its services, in line with the strategic plan, ICCA will deliver enhanced benefits to its members,” he said.

Freysen-Pretorius: limited-term contract for future ICCA CEOs

Meanwhile, Freysen-Pretorius has revealed a new approach to ICCA’s future CEO engagement, which will now be limited to a three-year term contract that is renewable based on performance and board approval.

ICCA is expected to have a new CEO by April 2019, having tapped Brussels-based European Affairs Recruitment Specialist (EARS) to assist in selecting and evaluating candidates, with closing date for application on January 15.

Freysen-Pretorious reported before the General Assembly that ending former CEO Martin Sirk’s 16-year tenure was “not a decision that happened overnight made by any one individual but rather the outcome of several concerns that the board had over an extended period”.

She explained that ICCA’s growth in a global environment of constant change and disruption forced the board to ask where will it be in the next decade and whether its mission and vision are still appropriate. The board’s eventual unanimous decision was that Sirk was not the right person to activate and implement ICCA’s vision and objectives.

The skills of the CEO of an organisation the size of ICCA “necessitates a strong understanding of financial management, controls and reporting to be in place always for us to continue our growth and thrive,” remarked Freysen-Pretorius.

“We need leadership that can implement an operational structure that is supported by proper checks and balances while maintaining the ICCA family style ethos. Our business model and approach has to be reevaluated for future growth,” she added.

Freysen-Pretorious told TTGmice that Sirk’s termination has financial implications. “The CEO contract stipulated that ICCA had to give 12 months’ notice and in addition would be liable for another 12 months of severance pay under the Dutch labour law,” she said.

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