Talk about your journey with GMDC. How did you come to
join the organization and what were your ;rst years like?
Dave McConnell: I actually met Rick Tilton and his number
two guy (Bill Wheeler) in 1976 in Dayton, Ohio not long after my
graduation from Miami of Ohio. Bill was a neighbor of mine and
introduced me to his incredibly dynamic boss, Rick Tilton. Rick
was a former Mead senior vice president-sales who had taken
over GMDC in 1974 and moved the association from Evanston,
Ill. to Dayton, Ohio. Over the next four years I developed a personal relationship with Rick and the GMDC sta; and after he
moved GMDC to Colorado Springs, Colo. in 1979, he reached
out to me to see if I would be interested in interviewing for a
new director of membership role he was sta;ng. I was lucky
enough to be selected for the job and on Aug. 1, 1980, I began
what turned into a 35-year career at GMDC.
The early years had their challenges. Although I had a job title
I did not have much of a job description. It was on-the-job training and industry education that brought me up to speed during
those ;rst couple of years and I wondered more than once if this
was a job I really wanted to do. Fortunately Rick hung in there
with me and mentored me to the point where I began to take
on increasingly more signi;cant leadership roles that ultimately
culminated in me being named president/CEO when Rick retired at the end of 1999.
You took over from Rick Tilton as president/CEO in 2000.
How did that come about?
My hire in the role of president/CEO was certainly not a slam-dunk when Rick announced that he would retire at the end of
1999. We had a second strong internal candidate in Ron Turner
but he made the decision to move on to another career opportunity. Ultimately, I was named senior vice president/COO not
long after Ron’s departure and in 1999 the GMDC Executive
Committee and Board of Directors announced that I would assume the role of president/CEO e;ective Jan. 1, 2000.
Talk about your accomplishments at GMDC. What are you
most proud of?
I am very proud of a couple of key
roles I played that I hope helped
build the GMDC brand and helps
extend it beyond my active leadership of the association. I inherited a pretty amazing sta; and membership culture that was developed by
Rick Tilton. However, although I inherited a
terri;c culture I feel that I was able to put my personal stamp on
that culture during my years as president/CEO. I am a big believer that an association is only as good as the support its members give it in actively participating in the events, programs and
governance of the organization.
I worked hard to enhance the involvement of our volunteer
leadership and did a good job of ensuring that the members
and board leaders felt that GMDC was truly their organization
and not just a sta; driven entity. I also feel a lot of pride in
the work I did in 2011 in creating the Presidents Innovation
Network (PIN) to evaluate and recommend cultural and structural breakthrough innovation programs for the association.
The output of the PIN’s work included the development of the
GMDC Connect Video Conferencing Network; the development of the GMDC Connect Videocast Series; the development
and deployment of the GMDC/Nielsen General Merchandise
Hierarchy Program; and the development of the RNG Virtual
Store Tour Program.
Who are some of the key people on your sta; or in the in-
dustry that helped you?
I have been blessed to have been mentored by a lot of incredibly talented people, including Rick and a litany of talented
board chairs and board participants. I certainly learned a lot
more from those people than they learned from me. My sta;
has been fantastic over the years with special kudos going out
to our vice president information technology Mike Winterbot-tom, and a young lady who meant so much to me on not only a
business level but also on a personal level—GMDC’s vice president ;nance and administration, Ann McConnell. Those two,
|GHQ| TALKING SHOP
WITH DAVE McCONNELL
Former president/CEO of Global Market Development Center (GMDC),
Dave McConnell, talks about his 35-year career and the future of GMDC.
DAVE Mc CONNELL