by Incentive Staff | November 21, 2017

Jonathan Grey

Founder and CEO, Ovation Incentives; President, IMA Europe; Board Member, Incentive Marketing Association

As the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) transitioned its IMA Europe special interest group into a chapter this past year, its new president, Grey, took up the challenge of overseeing its growth, which has been impressive. This focus on internationalizing the recognition and rewards industry is in many ways what he has been doing at Ovation Incentives, the London-based performance-improvement company of which he is founder and CEO. "Ovation has had tremendous success in recent years by remaining focused on solving the more complex incentive challenges for our clients -- namely the cross-border, multi-language solutions," Grey says, noting that 70 percent of his firm's revenue comes from outside the U.K.

From his post at IMA Europe, Grey says the chapter board's main goal for 2018 is to spread the passion its members have for the industry "to all corners of Europe in the coming year. It is [essential for] us to develop the next generation of incentive marketers, and to do that we must continue our traditions of bringing people together to connect and learn and trade with each other."

Jeff Grisamore

President and CEO, EGR
International & BlackLab Media

In his role as president and CEO of EGR International & BlackLab Media, Grisamore has been one of the key thought leaders in shifting the incentive industry to a more engagement-based view of motivation, having been an early proponent of connecting the disciplines such as employee motivation and training, marketing, and customer satisfaction into the overall strategy of engagement.

Under Grisamore's leadership, EGR & BlackLab Media have had an extraordinary year in 2017, capping a nearly eight-year run since its pivot into being a fully functional global engagement agency, offering clients end-to-end solutions that focus exclusively on custom engagement solutions that produce tangible, measurable ROI.

The company has an international client base with as many customers located overseas as in the United States, which reflects both the global position of both the company and the ever emerging global economy.

"We are excited about the future and believe that customized engagement solutions that are altruistic will continue to lead every industry segment, and we are proud to have our company's 47-year legacy be tied so closely to the incentive industry," says Grisamore. "Incentives continue to have a force and effect that makes a difference in the ongoing challenge of how to engage and motivate a new and ever-changing generation of individuals."

Chris Harrison

National Sales Manager, KleerWest, LLC; President, Incentive Manufacturers Representatives Alliance

As national sales manager at KleerWest LLC, a national marketing organization that carries top brand-name awards ranging from Dooney & Bourke handbags to Ibanez guitars, Harrison has 17 years of experience in the incentive merchandise award business. As president of the Incentive Manufacturers & Representatives Alliance (IMRA), a special interest group of the IMA, he has a broader remit as the face of one of the main industry groups advocating the use of non-cash awards.

A key goal of IMRA in the last couple of years has been to expand the market into more of the nearly 1.4 million small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S., slightly more than half of which already use merchandise awards, according to an Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) study that IMRA sponsored last year. Those businesses spend more than $16 billion on these awards, but frequently buy them at retail or online, rather than through the incentive channel. On the other hand, 85 to 90 percent of those companies work with promotional products distributors.

John Hornbogen

President, Incentive Marketing Association; Vice President, Business Development, RPG Card Services

"Staying ahead of change" is how Hornbogen describes his priorities, both in his efforts with RPG Card Services -- where the organization has launched a new distribution center as well as in-house gift card print-on-demand service and high-speed individual fulfillment -- and more recently in his elevation to president of the IMA.

In this new position, Hornbogen is now putting the finishing touches on the IMA's new strategic plan. He and the rest of the board are making education and outreach a top priority and enhancing the organization's Circle of Excellence Awards to better spotlight how well-designed programs help organizations meet and exceed their business goals. This comes as the IMA has seen steady growth in the number of those acquiring IMA Certifications -- with almost 100 new Incentive Professional (IP) and Certified Professional of Incentive Management (CPIM) designations awarded in the past two years. A new Industry Experts Bureau is aimed at making it easier for industry members to find educational resources to help strengthen their hand in making the case for incentives. Under Hornbogen's leadership, the organization continues to find new ways for members to demonstrate the benefits of incentives through its education and trade show exhibits.


Joe Keller

President and COO, MotivAction

Under Keller's guidance, this leading engagement, events, and incentive company (which counts 26 Fortune 500 companies among its clients) recently showed the way for a new kind of recognition platform with the launch of Encore. As more companies are moving away from departmental silos and seeking to streamline multiple programs on one platform, this highly social and mobile tool for global firms shows one way to make it easy to recognize desired behaviors throughout an organization. The results have "exceeded our expectations," according to Keller. MotivAction has seen substantial growth in its business over the past several years while holding a 99 percent client retention rate.

Keller also is putting attention on growing MotivAction's sales and channel incentive business, enhancing the Encore platform to more simply deliver the applications that drive channel engagement and improved sales performance. The organization was certified as a Veteran Owned Business and qualifies for supplier diversity programs -- truly setting an example other incentive houses should consider following.

Rajeev Kohli

Joint Managing Director, Creative Travel, New Delhi, India

Wrapping up an unprecedented second year as president of SITE, and its first from Asia, Kohli has focused on expanding and strengthening SITE's global footprint and influence, and the results have been impressive. It is educating and advocating for incentive travel in a growing number of countries, from Chile and Slovenia to Egypt and China. He has also overseen a strengthening of SITE's finances, expansion of partnerships like the SITE + MPI Global Forum, and launch of the SITE Knowledge Center. That's on top of his role as senior vice president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, and joint head of the most globally awarded DMC in South Asia.

Looking ahead, the 23-year industry veteran intends to focus on building a network of SITE leaders to act as advisors, consultants, and mentors, particularly in emerging destinations. Kohli says 2018 will be a good time for that, noting that the latest SITE Index survey not only shows optimism and budgets growing, "the perceived value of incentive travel as a motivational tool has significantly strengthened in the eyes of the buyers and suppliers alike." And while safety remains a big concern, "both buyers and sellers report that it's not a deterrent to a strong incentive market."