by Terence Baker | June 01, 2004

Sharon Collins"I think there is an instinct for being able to make the right recommendations at the right time."

Sharon Collins, CMP, is the Atlanta-based director of meetings and expositions for the Kellen Co., an association management firm. Last October, Collins assumed responsibility for the Washington, D.C.-based Juice Products Association (JPA), a new 400-member organization formed by the merger of the National Juice Products Association (NJPA) and the Processed Apples Institute (PAI).

Previously, you planned meetings just for the PAI. Was the merger difficult? No, because during the transition process, all the association-management companies bidding for the new business were kept in the loop about the JPA’s planned October midyear meeting. This gave us time to prepare for an event occurring the same month we landed the contract. The JPA also has an annual meeting in May.

How did you approach the running of this new association? I did not charge in like a playground bully. It was important to learn from the history of both groups; for example, the NJPA had a long history of volunteerism, so we plan on expanding that.

What makes a good planner? I think there is an instinct for it, for being able to make the right recommendations at the right time. Attention to detail and being able to see the importance of good customer relations also are important.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Passing my CMP exam, which I did this January. If you’ve been out of school for a while, the studying is intense. Participating in a CMP study group is critical.