Mark Swets, CAE, has been working with associations for years, most recently with FICP (Financial & Insurance Conference Planners), but he is new to SITE Global, as head of operations -- since February.
His first public outing wearing the SITE hat was to attend the Global Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange (GMITE) April 10-13, 2019, at the Grand Summit Hotel, a Rock Resort, in Park City, Utah, an event that provides suppliers the opportunity to meet with fully vetted, high-performing buyers over two days of pre-set meetings, immersive activities and valuable education. The event provides attendees with vast opportunities for networking and growing the MICE business.
“SITE partners with Questex on this event. This year we had about 200 attendees. Because I worked with FICP for five years prior to SITE, it gave me the opportunity to connect with old friends, new members and non-members for the first time,” says Swets.
“I’ve known about incentive travel since early in my career, but GMITE was a great opportunity to deep-dive more into the incentive industry. I had more than 28 appointments with members and suppliers over two days and got some great feedback on SITE and how to deliver on member expectations.
“I talked to several members who updated me on their chapter’s activities and their plans for the future. I got some really good feedback.”
As head of operations for SITE, Swets says, “I have a finger in everything SITE does; working on events, the day-to-day operations, membership and what the chapters are doing. I need to be aware of everything that’s happening to make sure all the pieces fit together.”
A graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in business administration, Swets worked for the West Michigan Whitecaps, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Detroit Tigers.
“My dream was to work for a professional sports team, but I found that it was a highly competitive field,” he says.
So he returned to his native Chicago and accepted an operations position at the Field Museum of Natural History in operations, where happily he met his wife, Danielle.
He then went to work for various non-profits but eventually came back to the world of associations.
“It’s incredibly fulfilling to work with organizations to help map out their future. Strong volunteer leadership is essential, and SITE and the SITE foundation are comprised with bright minds committed to moving the organization forward.
“SITE has a very active board of directors and works so well with SITE Foundation. It’s a great industry with great momentum.”
When Mark is not working, he and his wife spend a lot of time with extended family in the Chicago area and with 13-year-old son Kristopher.