“Wine by day and registration by night”
Didier Scaillet, CEO SITE and the SITE Foundation
When SITE’s newly appointed CEO, Didier Scaillet, told his banker father he wanted to work in hospitality, his Dad was not impressed. “Do some real studies first," he declared. So the young Didier obtained a Master’s qualification in Mathematics and Economics before approaching his Dad again. This time he was allowed to attend one of the prestigious hotel schools in Switzerland where he completed the three-year programme in 18 months. Little did he know how relevant this apparently eclectic educational background would be for his subsequent career as a leader in the Association sector.
“It sounds a bit weird as my background includes high level Math as well as training as a chef and a sommelier, but it does means I can plan an amazing menu, select the perfect wines and do all the necessary math around it to ensure on budget delivery. Not a bad basis for an event & incentive professional?”
Didier’s entry into the magical world of Business Incentives & Events came via the Association sector.
“I was working as a buyer for a wine importer when I met Robin Lokerman (now MCI’s Group President) at an event. He offered me the opportunity to help at an event that his company GIC was running so I ended up doing wine by day and registration by night – probably the exact opposite to what most Business Events professionals do. The rest, as they say, is history!”
Didier eventually became an owner at GIC before selling his shareholding in 2000 and assuming the role of European Director for Meeting Professionals International (MPI), which began an ambitious expansion programme beyond North America into Europe and Asia. He flags his achievements at MPI as a career highlight.
“I was privileged to be a catalyst in MPI's expansion outside of North America and my team successfully built a robust membership in Europe and then in Asia. I witnessed first hand the power of community, the transformative way that association membership can impact a member’s personal and working life. I’ve built lifelong friendships through association involvement and know so many couples who met as a direct result of volunteering."
Didier is proud and excited to lead SITE. “I’ve known SITE throughout my 20 years at MPI and was always struck by the energy, vibrancy and true professionalism of its members. SITE is all about the business case for incentives, the ROI of motivational travel. I’m looking forward to helping SITE build out its membership base, increase its global footprint and continue to lead the conversation when it comes to “meetings / incentives mean business".
And the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Be respectful. The ones you meet on the way up are the same ones that you meet on the way down. Be kind.”