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ICCA presidential message says board ‘unanimous’ in agreeing CEO’s swift departure

ICCA president Nina Freysen-Pretorius has issued the following statement (13 July), which attempts to shed more light on the sudden ousting, 27 June, of the organisation’s CEO Martin Sirk:


Dear ICCA Members, Partners and Industry Friends,

On Wednesday 27 June 2018, we announced that Martin Sirk would be leaving ICCA at the end of July. Martin has provided a great service over the span of his career with ICCA. As President, I want to personally share with you that it was only after lengthy deliberation that the Board unanimously conceded now is the right time to welcome new leadership to the organisation.

In the years ahead, we anticipate a greater need for alliances and for more strategic interdependencies within those alliances. We know that we need to reassess not only our CRM platform, but our entire technology stack – solutions in use and those not yet in place. GDPR presents new organisational challenges, and we can be sure that laws around privacy and personal data will continue to evolve.

We believe that best navigating these 21st century changes and many others – challenges as well as the opportunities they’ll represent – will require from ICCA a new level of organisational agility and responsiveness, and that achieving that requires from our CEO different skill sets and fresh perspective informed by different experience. 

While this was in no way an easy decision to arrive at, we know that it is the right decision for the members, partners and other stakeholders whose interests ICCA exists to serve. 

Some have expressed surprise that Martin is stepping away from his position so soon following this announcement. It was never the Board’s intention that the transition occur in the timetable now laid out. It was, however, Martin’s request, and one we felt it important to honour. It is a reasonable expectation and normal business practice that a CEO negotiate when best to leave an organisation, and we appreciate that this schedule allows Martin and ICCA alike to more quickly complete the transition and focus on moving forward.

Given this timetable, the Board also agreed – again unanimously – that Dennis Speet was the ideal candidate for Interim CEO, based on his knowledge of ICCA and our industry. We approached Dennis with this request only after resolution with Martin, and we were heartened that Dennis agreed to take on the role upon understanding the Board’s expectations.  

As Interim CEO, beginning July 29, Dennis’ responsibility will be to ensure continuity of ICCA operations and steady progress on initiatives, events and developing relationships already in place. He will have guidance from and the full support of the Board and MFC in this task. By fall, ICCA will have retained the services of an international consultant experienced in filling positions at this level. By October, the Board will issue a formal CEO job description and call for applicants. It is our goal to have secured ICCA’s new CEO by no later than March of next year. 

In closing, I invite you to continue to bring questions or concerns to myself or any Board member. I know that change is rarely easy, that uncertainty is never comfortable. But I am certain that there’s a bright future ahead for ICCA, that we will weather this change together and emerge even stronger in mere months, ready to advance with confidence in 2019 and for years to come. 


Nina Freysen-Pretorius ICCA President