The world of incentives, motivation, and engagement is a chaotic one. It's an industry built on appealing to people's dreams and emotions and structured in a complex network of intermediaries, resellers, and partners. It needs people like the three individuals on this list to keep track of how all the pieces fit together when everything goes right, and figure out the problems when things go wrong.
Janet Traphagen, president of Creative Group, Inc.; chair of the IRF
WHY SHE'S ON THE LIST: At the IRF, she has been at the helm as the leading research and education organization takes the next step in its growth. As president of the incentive firm Creative Group, she is putting these insights into practice. "Our clients still have the same business needs as they always have had -- employee retention, sales and profit growth, innovation, etc. We need to get back to leading with human connections."
RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: Traphagen says she is proudest of "leading both organizations through the journey of redefining its vision." At the IRF, she has been overseeing the foundation as it expands its staff and the amount of actionable research it produces, and increases its outreach and education at industry events.
Kari Vrba, senior vice president of business development at MotivAction; 2017 secretary/executive board member of the IRF
WHY SHE'S ON THE LIST: An active leader in the incentive industry as well as an executive at one of the most prominent incentive houses, Vrba is a big proponent of using the growing amount of information available from incentive technology platforms to measure and prove the value of incentive and recognition programs. "Measurement has always been core to our business but our technology advancements have allowed us to process, validate, and analyze information real-time," she says. "What used to be saved for quarterly reviews is reviewed daily."
RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: Vrba has helped oversee growth at MotivAction, which has added five new sales offices in the past five years, as well as substantial investment in its Encore recognition platform.
Tina G. Weede, CRP, president of USMotivation; vice president of research and education at the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) Foundation
WHY SHE'S ON THE LIST: Aside from leading an important performance improvement, incentive, and recognition agency, Weede is a leader in bringing a research-based approach to the motivation industry.
RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: At the SITE Foundation, she's overseen significant growth in incentive travel research, including a recent partnership with J.D. Power for its flagship SITE Index, which has seen a 50 percent increase in responses and expanded its global reach this year, with 62 countries participating. USMotivation's Clarity Research tools, created in partnership with neuroscientist Dr. Steven Curtis, help clients better understand the "ideal expectations of their associates and customers, and shrink the disappointment gap," Weede says. "You can then craft robust strategies to align the needs of the business with the needs of your employees and clients."
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