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MPI Member Spotlight: Amanda Armstrong, MPI Board Chair

Amanda Armstrong - MPI Board Chair

There is much to be said about first impressions. Take Amanda Armstrong, for instance. Armstrong, the corporate travel and meetings director for Enterprise Holdings Inc. and the incoming chair of the MPI International Board of Directors, wowed attendees at the World Education Congress (WEC) last summer in Las Vegas. For those who didn’t know Armstrong, her presentation during one of the luncheons may rank as the most profound and inspirational moment of the conference. It was smart, funny, relevant, personal, teary and inspirational, all wrapped up in a way-too-fast eight minutes.

She spoke of leadership, engagement, education, mentoring and the rewards of self-improvement, and also challenged the membership to commit to volunteerism.
“Is volunteerism powerful?” she said during her presentation. “Absolutely. It helped me achieve my career goals. It’s more than that. There’s one person in the audience and, here it comes, that taught me its importance, and that’s my mom.

“There’s a note in the prompter that says, ‘don’t cry,’” she said as she started to tear up. “Throughout my childhood, volunteering was a priority—contributing to something bigger than yourself—a charity, an advocacy group, your community. It was important, it was a family value. Leave the campsite better than you found it. Thank you, mom, for teaching me that service leads to true happiness.

“My challenge to you is to look at volunteerism in a new light,” she said. “To shift your paradigm. Don’t give your time, invest your time. Invest in something you’re passionate about, and more important, invest it in yourself.”

Her commitment and passion as she embarks as the volunteer leader of the MPI board does not come as a surprise to those who know her.

“Amanda offers her peers and friends something very rare,” says Gus Vonderheide (MPI Chicago Area Chapter), vice president of global sales for Hyatt Hotels Corp. - Americas. “Her honest and compassionate approach to communicating is one of her greatest traits. When I need a nonbiased opinion on a topic, I know where to go. Her sincerity and optimistic attitude are contagious. She will provide a genuine message to MPI members that will be fresh and well received.”

Tatiana Lotufo, regional director of business development for ACCESS Destination Services, says she is most impressed with Armstrong’s ability to “make everyone feel so welcome and comfortable around her. She’s not only one of the most genuine and considerate people I know, but she’s great at building relationships. I’m her friend, but first and foremost she’s my client and I always felt she’s been transparent with me and always does what she says she’s going to do. She listens and is always willing to provide feedback to help the team improve.”

Her genuine openhearted nature may be the trait that is most striking about Armstrong. A first meeting is like a reunion of longtime friends. She is quick with a smile, quicker to offer words of encouragement and exudes a spirit of adventure. Growing up in Colorado, her parents encouraged her to seek adventures.

“We did a lot of camping, a lot of backpacking, a lot of outdoor sports, skiing and rock climbing,” she says. “I think it instilled a lot of confidence in both my brother and I to just go out and experience the world.”

Armstrong’s love for the television show Mission Impossible inspired her to want a career as a CIA agent.

“I actually took it quite seriously,” she says. “I started learning Spanish and I took some martial arts lessons. I thought for sure I was going to live abroad and work undercover operations missions for our government.”

At the University of Colorado, she discovered “just how big the world was” and rather than working covert missions, she learned she could “travel the world rather than be a spy and carry a gun. So, my parents were pretty pleased that I got to that revelation.”
She earned a degree in international relations and after a semester at sea program went to work for a luxury travel company. She would travel to more than 40 countries in five years, meet her future husband Jon and decide she could translate all her skills in logistics and operations in other countries to a job as a meeting coordinator for Clockwork Home Services, advancing from working trade shows to planning corporate meetings. She joined Enterprise in 2007 and is based in San Diego.

Armstrong is passionate about volunteerism and promoting the skills that can be gained as an MPI member. She joined the organization 13 years ago when she started a new job and “realized I had about half the skills that I needed and I was afraid I was going to make a mistake.”

She went to an MPI chapter meeting and thought that was exactly what she needed, learning about such issues as contracts, audiovisual production and shipping.
“I just drank it in because I was so nervous that I didn’t have the skill set, and I didn’t have the knowledge,” Armstrong says. “As I progressed in my career, I found other nuggets about leadership, about collaboration, about leading a team, about inspiring others. And every year, MPI grew with me as my needs changed.

“Right now, I am fortunate to be a part of three noteworthy communities—Enterprise, MPI and my department,” she says. “Each one inspires me, challenges me and teaches me on a daily basis. Working with strong, smart leaders keeps me reaching higher with my own personal and professional growth. I want to shift the paradigm of meetings and events globally. I want everyone who plans a meeting, an event or an incentive trip to look at the process as an opportunity to create change—social, behavioral, positive change that has impact on a micro and macro level.”

David Kliman, CMM, president of the Kliman Group and a past chair of the MPI board, says Armstrong’s greatest impact as MPI’s board chair will be her ability to “represent the diverse range of members and stakeholders through her lens as a millennial generation meeting professional who lives and breathes the planning and execution of meetings and events. She deeply understands the roles and issues faced by MPI’s members, both planners and suppliers, and will co-create solutions which MPI can offer to help its members address key issues.”

MPI President and CEO Paul Van Deventer says Armstrong is focused on driving MPI’s long-term strategic plan forward “while also enjoying the journey, which is a delicate, but important balance—especially when leading volunteers. She is very involved with our community and is a charismatic role model for volunteerism and the power of being engaged with MPI.”

SIDEBAR

Go to MPICommittees for MPItv News video coverage of Amanda Armstrong discussing the value of volunteerism at the 2017 MPI World Education Congress.

Meet Amanda Armstrong

Birthplace: Albuquerque, N.M.
Family: 
Married to Jon.
Pets:
  None currently. I think I have “pet burn out” after growing up with a dog, a cat, fish, a bunny, a hamster and, yes, a pony. All I can say is that Ginger the pony was NOT on my Santa list.
Hobbies: I love the outdoors…skiing, sailing, hiking, camping, fishing, biking.
Collects:
 Nothing really, as I consider myself a minimalist. Although I do have several pairs of cowgirl boots, but doesn’t everybody?
Favorite destination:
Uncharted territory.
What was your first job? The first paycheck I got with my name on it was from the American Black Belt Academy in Colorado Springs, where I was a teaching assistant.
Best advice someone gave you? Be true to yourself and don’t compromise your integrity.

Advice you give to someone considering a career in meetings and events? Come on in, the water feels great!

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About the Author

Rich
Rich Luna

Rich Luna is director of publishing for MPI and editor in chief of The Meeting Professional.