by Leo Jakobson | May 23, 2017

Jane E. Schuldt, CITE, CIS, long a champion and leader of the incentive industry, passed away on Saturday, May 20, after a 10-month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 63.

Calling her a "cherished friend and industry legend," Kevin Hinton, CEO of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), said Schuldt "recently told a friend, 'I love my life, but there is such a short time to complete it. Regardless of the future, I don't regret anything in this journey. It's been rich and full because of friends, family, and the opportunities I've been afforded around the world.'" His full tribute to Schuldt can be found by clicking here.

Like so many people who have spent their career in the incentive industry, Schuldt came to the business indirectly, transferring from a position as a sales manager for a tour package operator into its Asia-focused Pacific World destination management company subsidiary in 1979. A year later, she founded the MICE-focused firm that would become World Marketing Group, providing brand and business development services for Pacific World.

Over the next 37 years, Schuldt would become known as a tireless advocate of the incentive industry and a leader of SITE, serving as a longtime board member and president of both the organization's international board of directors and its educational arm, the SITE Foundation.

She gave that same energy and attention time and again to individuals learning and growing in the incentive industry (including this reporter as he tried to figure out the deceptively complex industry). Schuldt was "a friend, inspiration, and mentor to many of us here," Hinton said, as he announced at IMEX Frankfurt on May 17 that the group's highest honor would be renamed the Jane E. Schuldt Master Motivator Award.

Schuldt was also involved in other organizations across the meetings, incentives, conventions, and events industry, including Meeting Professionals International, Professional Convention Management Association, and the Association of Destination Management Executives International.

Two years ago, Schuldt was recognized with what is widely acknowledge to be the MICE industry's highest honor by the Events Industry Council (EIC) -- until this month the Convention Industry Council -- when she was inducted into its Hall of Fame. At the time, the organization called Schuldt someone who has "directly shaped the evolution and trajectory of the incentive travel sector."

Of the many reasons EIC cited for her induction, her "single most important contribution to the industry has been bridging east and west as she established a seat at the global table for the incentive industry," adding that Schuldt was a powerful voice in convincing incentive companies to connect with the industry on a global level. "She was their link to developing business relationships with destinations around the world, most notably Southeast Asia and China," the EIC said, noting that for many destinations in Asia and farther afield, Schuldt and her firm acted as their introduction and conduit to incentive companies.