February 24, 2020 – VisitPittsburgh, the tourism promotion agency for Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, has retained executive recruitment firm SearchWide Global to find its next president and chief executive officer. Craig Davis, who led the agency for seven years, stepped down at the end of last year to take the job as president and CEO of VisitDallas.
Mike Gamble, president and CEO, is leading the assignment for SearchWide Global, which also placed Mr. Davis in his new job.
The non-profit agency’s president and CEO is responsible for “creating, planning, organizing, directing and implementing, through staff and direct involvement, strategies, promotions, policies, programs and activities to ensure that the Greater Pittsburgh area benefits economically from convention, tradeshow and tourism business,” said SearchWide Global.
VisitPittsburgh, which has a $12.4 million budget, operates on funds generated from private partnership investments, public grants and legislated tax moneys. The leadership role requires that excellent communications and public relations are established and maintained with the partnership, public and private entities, cultural institutions, local, state and national government representatives, the media and the hospitality industry as a whole, said the search firm.
The president and CEO is responsible, directly and through staff personnel, for fund development. It’s also critical that the leader maintain and increase enrollment of a broad and diversified partnership base and further ensure that all constituents favorably perceive the efforts and achievements of VisitPittsburgh.
The organization’s next leader must possess highly developed knowledge and expertise in sales, marketing, administration, planning, communications and public relations, and budgetary matters, said SearchWide Global. Exceptional leadership skills; high self-awareness; and a highly developed ability to lead, mentor, persuade and motivate others is essential. Also needed is a broad, seasoned knowledge and understanding of the destination marketing/convention/tourism and hospitality industry.
Candidates should have outstanding verbal, written and presentation skills. Highly developed interpersonal, diplomacy, collaboration and human relations skills are also required. Prospects must have the ability to anticipate and understand the needs of clients, constituents and the community at large and to influence others regarding fund raising, strategic planning and budgetary matters.
The ability to anticipate and understand the needs of clients, constituents and the community at large is essential, said SearchWide Global. Prospects must have demonstrated experience with developing strong community partnerships and exhibiting consistent collaboration; proven skills in both the domestic and international marketplace; and experience building and maintaining effective relationships with international tourism industry leaders and partners, among other skill-sets.
A bachelor’s degree in marketing, business administration or an equivalent undergraduate discipline is required; a master’s degree in a related discipline is highly preferred, said the search firm. A certified destination management executive designation is strongly recommended.
Ideal characteristics that candidates should have include: being approachable, politically savvy, a good listener, trustworthy, passionate, energetic and strong business acumen, among others.
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Established in 1935, VisitPittsburgh is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region. VisitPittsburgh creates, plans and implements sales, marketing and public relations programs that attract conventions, tradeshows, media and leisure travelers into the Greater Pittsburgh area, thereby ensuring the area of certain economic benefits. The non-profit achieves its goals through the combined efforts of its sales, marketing and public relations staff who actively solicit convention and tradeshow business, media coverage and leisure travel for the Greater Pittsburgh area along with additional professional internal staff who support and promote these efforts.
SearchWide Global, based in St. Paul, MN, is a full service executive recruitment firm primarily for companies in the travel, tourism, hospitality, convention, trade association, venue management and experiential marketing industries. The firm specializes in C-level and director-level executive searches for companies ranging in size from Fortune 500 corporations to mid-sized public and private companies and associations.
Mr. Gamble handles C-level searches across all sectors. Prior to SearchWide Global, he was senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Philadelphia CVB and held various leadership roles with Marriott International. He has served on the foundation boards of Destinations International, PCMA, MPI and currently on the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media