Good Luck and Thank You, Jack O'Neill!

I just read the news: Jack O'Neill is retiring at the end of the year as President of Carlson Wagonlit Travel North America. CWT's Hakan Ericsson, currently president of the agency's operations in Latin America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will assume Jack's role.

So I guess this is finally official -- as Jack and I have discussed this off-the-record several times. All I can say is that our industry is losing a wonderful executive who is a true gentleman and icon. [more] I for one will miss Jack's wisdom and professionalism immensely and I know his staff and team at CWT will miss his leadership as well.

One of my career highlights that I periodically look back and reflect warmly upon is when Jack stood up at The Masters in 2003 as I concluded moderating an industry executive panel and thanked me on behalf of the industry for a job well done as GBTA President and CEO. In front of a powerful group of industry executives, Jack took the initiative to express his sentiments over my tenure as GBTA President. I recall feeling very humbled and touched that a guy of Jack's stature would do that and lead a huge round of applause.

For one of the very few times in my life, I was speechless. But then again, those who know Jack, will tell you that's the kind of guy he is. He's the ultimate, motivating team leader who leads by example and not by empty words and hollow catch phrases.

Congratulations and good luck Jack for a well deserved retirement. On behalf of our industry, let me now take the lead and say "thank you" for a job well done. But more importantly, please stay in touch with those of us privileged to call you a friend.

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is excerpted with permission from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.