The MPI board of directors named Paul Van Deventer as the association’s new CEO and president on Tuesday (click here to read the full press release). His official first day is April 29; and he was in the office this week to meet the international headquarters staff and learn more about the departments and individuals serving the MPI community.
He learned a little about us. So now, let’s learn a little about him.
One+ editor Jason Hensel: Whose style has inspired you as a leader?
Paul Van Deventer: For personal leadership inspiration, I say the style of my parents and what I’ve learned from them. For business leadership inspiration, the most significant is Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, because of his focus on the people and leadership development side of the business.
JH: So, what’s your management style?
PVD: I’m a manager who likes a collaborative approach and to empower leaders by giving them a clear definition of expectations and the tools to get things done.
JH: Do you volunteer or work with any charities?
PVD: I have worked with several different charities, engaged on boards for my kids’ school systems, as well as a group called Go Lightly Travel, an educational academy built in the Detroit inner city, to help underprivileged students find a career path. Other travel executives and I made a commitment to hire students from the academy as they came through the school. It was inspirational to be involved with it. Currently, my family is engaged in supporting a homeless shelter for men in Carlsbad, Calif., by helping deliver food to them.
JH: What will you bring from your previous business experience to the association world?
PVD: My work experiences have been primarily working in the B-2-B environment, working with large employers, specifically in lots of cases, travel providers. When you look at what we’re doing at this association, it’s very relevant from a B-2-B perspective, because the funding source is primarily coming from large employers and corporations, including travel providers. I think those relationships I built and my understanding of those industries will be very helpful for us.
The other side of my business experience has been very customer and relationship focused. The association business is all about leveraging relationships, building value for our members and being able to engage and leverage the skill set of volunteers. I’ve done a lot of that in my career.
JH: What are some of your favorite books?
PVD: I’m always reading several books at once. I read a lot of historical books, especially around military history and American campaigns. I like to read a little bit of easy-reading junk every so often, and I tend to follow my kids’ lead there. I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy. I also just read a really interesting book called The Admirals, which is about the leading admirals of WWII. You can learn a lot about leadership through history books.
JH: What’s your favorite vacation spot?
PVD: I grew up and was raised on the Jersey Shore, and I try to take my kids back there every year. It’s the most comfortable place to vacation for me.
JH: Who are your favorite bands?
PVD: I like Bruce Springsteen, the Counting Crows. I love Jimmy Buffet shows—I’m somewhat of a parrot head. I tend to fall back in the 1970s rock era. Stones, Eagles . . . I love live music. The challenge is staying up late enough now to go see shows. Satellite radio is the worst thing ever given to me, because I drive my wife and kids crazy by going back and forth between show tunes to acid rock to classical music to some bubblegum pop from the 1970s.
JH: What are some of your hobbies?
PVD: Reading, cycling, spending time with my kids, golfing and traveling.
JH: Do you play any sports?
PVD: I’m no longer competitive in any sports. I do a lot of road cycling. I snow ski with my kids. And I play golf.
JH: What are some of your favorite movies?
PVD: From a funny side, My Cousin Vinny. From a historical side, I like Galliopli. From an inspirational side, I love Brian’s Song (the original, not the remake). I worked the reel-to-reel in a theater as one of my college jobs, and we showed Brian’s Song one week. I sat there and cried three times a night for a week.
I also like The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz. I love the new Les Mis. It’s my favorite play, and I thought they did a great job with the movie. The only challenge was Russell Crowe’s voice was so bad.
JH: Oh, you like plays?
PVD: I used to try to go to two a year. The last play I saw was Wicked. By the way, if you follow theater, the La Jolla Playhouse in California has been just an incredible theater system for Broadway. A lot of shows out of there end up on Broadway.
JH: It was great getting to know a little more about you. Any other thoughts you’d like to share with the members of the MPI community?
PVD: Well, I’m excited to be back in the travel community, and I’m excited to be a part of the MPI organization and working closely with the community, and I look forward to meeting everyone face-to-face at WEC this summer in Las Vegas.