Remembering Jane Schuldt

jane schuldt

The meeting and incentive industry lost a great leader last week when Jane E. Schuldt, CITE, CIS, founder World Marketing Group, passed away at the age of 63 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Jane was a true visionary. She had that rare combination of qualities that everyone who has ever made a difference possesses - the creativity to dream and the skill and perseverance required to turn dreams into reality.

Beyond all that, she was a fun person to be around. Which is often a missing factor in a leader, but the difference between a good one and a great one.

Here are some remembrances of Jane from colleagues in the industry who knew her best. If, after reading them you would like contribute some memories of your own, please send them along and we'll add them. Email them to [email protected]. Also, in lieu of flowers, Jane's family is requesting memorials be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Fay Beauchine, president, Brojure

Jane has been a special friend for 37 years. We've traveled together to over 30 countries because we always were going to the same events and both trying to develop the market. We had an amazing kinship - like a sisterhood. I was so lucky to know her and her husband John, too. He is the famous road warrior husband, always there to support Jane and often traveled with her. They are a wonderful love story.

Her heart, her brain, and her integrity are what made Jane so special. I learned so much from her. We loved talking about how travel builds trust and broadens perspectives and ultimately changes people for the better. She was completely honest about the pros and cons of a destination or why she'd go to one country before another based on her clients' profile. She was determined to educate others on the value of experiencing the new. She brought strange and exotic destinations into the forefront, and made them feel risk-free and understandable.

We traveled together on business, had our own share of culture shock and eventually learned how to excite and prepare others for trying Asia. Although we probably didn't recognize it at the time, we were lucky to grow up in the era of globalization and were some of the early birds to experience China, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia.

People felt seen, heard and valued when they shared time with Jane. Her mentorship to many will leave a lasting legacy.

In relation to SITE, her accomplishment was helping to globalize the organization and advance an educational agenda that was beyond "American speak." She always spoke the truth. "SITE is for everybody".

For her own business, she personally convinced many incentive companies to venture further than the tried and true destinations explaining that the participant rewards would be great. She was right; people's eyes were opened. She introduced many to Asia, and then later to emerging destinations within Europe.

That's how the industry will remember her. But to me, she will always be an elegant, determined, accomplished, broad-minded, kind, and a trusted, true friend.

Patrick Delaney, managing partner at SoolNua 

I have known Jane for over 30 years and even though I knew of her illness, her death still came as a shock to me, so all these memories, filled as they are with great joy, also bring tears.

I have had the privilege of spending work and leisure time with Jane at different locations around the world from Minnesota to Frankfurt and beyond. Jane was to me a truly authentic friend and colleague, in a discussion whether it was about byelaws or beliefs she would share her opinion and experience without holding back anything and you could always be sure she would be totally invested and dedicated to finding a solution.

Jane was a passionate, experienced, and genuine expert in the power of incentive travel to influence behavior and achieve corporate goals. With this understanding she never wavered in promoting incentive travel, SITE and the SITE Foundation as a vehicle for carrying this message out into the marketplace - even in difficult business environments that were not always receptive to that message. For many of us she was also our initial gateway into understanding Asia and especially China, an exotic and very different world as seen from the West in the early 80's.

I'll always remember Jane for her wonderful warm smile and elegance, someone who always gave of her time and talent without favor, a smart woman whose commitment to fulfilling her promises never wavered no matter what obstacle was put in front of her.

Kurt L. Paben, president Americas - global loyalty solutions, Aimia

Jane was not only an industry leader but also a cherished and trusted friend. Jane was the President of the SITE Foundation right before me so we used the opportunity that we both lived in Minneapolis to meet monthly for lunch to help chart the future of the SITE Foundation, but it would always lead to a good personal catch up as well.  These monthly lunches continued up until just a few months ago, long past both of our terms as President. I cherish these one-on-one memories, and will miss her.

Jane was so passionate, and proud, of our industry.  She was constantly looking for ways to help substantiate the business case for Incentive Travel through research and education.   She was one of SITE's biggest champions…always looking for ways to build the organization…and create leaders for the future.

Jane was forever curious. She was always interested in finding new ways to build the incentive travel industry. Many people who have reached Jane's level of tenure fall into the trap of thinking they know it all. For Jane it was just the opposite, she never stopped learning, and never stopped teaching. She pushed people and organizations hard to constantly be better, and was always open to others points of view.

Everything she did was so elegant.

Ray Bloom, IMEX Group Chairman

Jane's kindness, integrity, loyalty and support is what made our enduring friendship so special to me. Amongst Jane's wonderful contributions to the industry, was her leadership as President of SITE and The SITE Foundation. Jane was a great educator and mentor for many people around the world. She also was a key promoter for incentive travel for over four decades, having a great influence on the development of incentive travel as a respected business practice, particularly in Asia. Jane was one of incentive travel's leading pioneers. Jane should be remembered as one of the great leaders in our Industry. She was a person of great compassion and kindness.

Bonnie Boisner, vice president event management, One10

Jane's passion for everything she believed in was so inspiring to me.   Her energy was contagious and with it she brought out the best in people. Jane taught me to learn from every encounter and to seek hard and ask questions to truly understand, especially when dealing with different cultures all over the world. Jane was a giver in every sense of the word and was someone I could always go to for advice and support.

Jane's greatest contribution was her investment of her time and talent!  The knowledge and expertise she gave and shared with everyone in this industry, from those young and new with whom she took under her wing, to her colleagues of many years, we are a better industry because of Jane's investment. Her advocacy to 'give back' inspired many to be engaged and involved to better our industry.

I think Jane will be remembered as a strong leader who was passionate, engaged and determined to learn more every day to be the best. She was a pioneer who opened Asia and many other markets around the world to the incentive travel industry and was an expert at knowing what it takes to motivate and drive business results with high quality international experiences. She was a genuine friend who knew how to build deep and lasting relationships connecting people all over the world. 

Robert W. Guy CMP, managing director - Singapore & Malaysia, Destination Asia

Jane Schuldt was one of my dearest friends and closest colleagues in the industry.  I first met her in 1981 and got to know her, worked on many projects together over the following 35+ years. In particular, we worked together while she was president of SITE as well as when I served on the Board of Directors as VP-finance. Even though she had stepped down from the presidency, she often attended keyboard meetings when a topic of particular interest or challenge was on the agenda.

Jane was an exceptional individual in every way and she readily gave her time to mentor and train others and was always an essential ingredient in making sales for companies where I worked. She knew many of the destinations in Asia intimately and never failed to add to a customer's knowledge when they were considering one of our destinations in this region.

Jane loved the industry in which we work and gave readily in her capacities as president of both SITE in the SITE foundation as well as chief executive of our own representation company. She also readily accepted invitations to speak at industry events, even if it required flying across the Pacific to do so. As she was very knowledgeable, many governments, government tourist bureaus sought out her counsel. She had a superb memory and a way with words that would allow her to paint pictures for customers to understand or comprehend the allure of a destination, inside information about a special hotel, exceptional dining experiences and meaningful activities to undertake in virtually any city or resort in this region.

Jane was a tireless contributor to SITE as she saw this as a vehicle to make the industry more professional and to create an environment for a common industry "voice" on important topics. This included occasions like the aftermath of the two Gulf wars, the tragic events of September 11th and other happenings in our region. She gave customers a direct understanding of the issues and recommended forcefully whether or not a project should go forward under a stressed situation.  She was able to describe in professional terms the exact situation that a destination was experiencing after a tsunami, and earthquake or a terrorist attack. She was also a great deal closer working for our companies to deliver business. She had a way of gaining the customers immediate respect with her knowledge and thorough approach to the business. Few people have this skill to such an intensity.

I also remember how during her leadership she was able to communicate with, develop relations with government leaders. I remember very well the SITE conference in Dublin where then president of Ireland, Mary Peterson attended, made the keynote address and assured attendees how important the meeting and incentive industry was to Ireland. Later when Mary moved on to become a senior leader in the EU, a similar event followed when Jane brought a delegation of decision-makers to visit one of the EU Capital Cities.

A few years back, Jane was elected to the Convention Industry Council (CIC) Hall of leaders.  There is also a SITE motivation award that is being named after her (this was announced last week at IMEX in Frankfurt). She will be remembered as an industry leader who began work in the business during the first generation after foundation. Like many, I believed I could call on her for the answer, or for an introduction to a key customer, or just some advice on how to handle a given situation. She was a true friend and industry professional to me and I will always remember her from that perspective.

Roger Tondeur, president, MCI

Jane was a great relationship person; she seemed to know everybody in the industry, as well as in the association world. She was something like a coach to me, when I first entered the incentive industry 30 years ago.

I believe her greatest contributions were all her efforts for making SITE a great marketplace and networking opportunity for everybody and bringing the buyer and seller community together.

She was a very kind person and every moment I spent with her made me feel good. I really appreciated her aura.

Chris Wheeler, executive director, incentive sales, Atlantis Paradise Resort


I knew Jane for over 20 years. She was (and always will be) one of the iconic giants in our industry who I will always admire and look up to. Jane nominated me for the SITE Foundation Board, which I now proudly serve on. She instilled in me how important it is to give back to what is important to you. For that - I thanked her every time I had the good fortune to share time with her. My heart is heavy because she is gone -but very full because I knew her.

Jane had such a deep passion for the travel industry - wanting to impart cultures, destinations and experiences around the world. As the saying goes:

"Travel is the only thing you can buy, that makes you richer."

Jane helped so many people around the world become very 'richer'.

Thank you Jane for making the world a more understanding place.

She will be remembered as a visionary, a trailblazer, a mentor, a friend, but most of all, an amazing person.

Kelly Cornwell, director - business development, World Marketing Group

It's hard to explain what made Jane special to me, sometimes she would put her hand on my shoulder when we were working on something together and the warmth in that simple act will stay with me forever.

As her many tributes have noted, Jane was a pioneer in the incentive travel industry, passionate in connecting with the world, servicing her clients and through it all, embodying honesty and integrity. But I'll always remember this: Jane once told me that anyone who met her mother-in-law, even if just briefly, remembered her because she had a remarkable way of giving a part of herself to people. In saying this, Jane described herself - this is how I will remember her as well.

Rhonda Brewer, Chief Sales and Operations Officer, CIS, RMC - Resorts, Mountains, Cities

Jane was so special to me in many ways. She was a real mentor and educator. It was her second nature. She could gently encourage someone to do something even though they didn't know if they were capable of doing it, but she always knew! Jane is the reason I got into SITE many years ago and I will be forever grateful to her for that. She guided me to this incredible organization where I have had the opportunity to learn so much and build life-long friendships! She paved the way in Asia for incentive travel and was so passionate about her company, traveling, the incentive market and her beloved family! She set the example for everyone in every way! It was a privilege to know her and call her my friend!

Her greatest contribution was building the bridge to incentive travel in Asia and also her contributions to SITE and the SITE Foundation. She never waivered!

Jane will always be remembered for her grace, passion, commitment and leadership. She was one-of-a-kind!

Michele Samoulides, Senior Manager, Worldwide Reward & Recognition Programs at Microsoft

Jane had a way of making everyone feel so special, including me. Many of us looked to her for mentoring, advice and knowledge. She was always so giving of herself. A truly elegant lady! She was so knowledgeable and a role model to so many. Her contributions are endless. She touched so many around the world.

Jane lived life to the fullest. She was so giving of her time and always made people feel special. She was exceptional, elegant, smart, beautiful and giving. We are all better for knowing her.

Tina Gunn Weede, CRP, president, CEO, Paragon Performance Group

Jane was a big reason why I joined the SITE Foundation four years ago. She believed in our mission and wanted to ensure that we provided value through our research and education. She pushed us all to do our very best and to think about things from different perspectives. She was so knowledgeable and so willing to share her knowledge with others. She was a great teacher, leader and friend. She was kind and thoughtful and so beautiful.

Jane loved SITE and the Foundation, she believed in our mission and wanted to ensure that we provided value through our Research and Education, that we were the voice for Incentive Travel. She was so knowledgeable about the world and so passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. She lived the mission of providing the business case to support Incentive travel. She was a strong business woman and a servant leader, she was there to help others be more  successful.

She should be remembered as the "First Lady" in our industry, she carried herself with such grace and dignity, she was so knowledgeable and eloquent in her delivery. She cared so very much!
Denise Dornfeld, CIS Chairperson, AlliedPRA, Inc.

Jane was the SITE Foundation President when I joined the Board. I remember being extremely impressed with her efficiency and compassion which she demonstrated throughout her career. I used to tease her that she was the "Curious George" of the DMC realm. She made it her life's mission to look for ways to collaborate, to educate, to encourage, to challenge and to support her friends, colleagues and the industry as a whole.  I believe one of Jane's greatest contributions to our industry will always be her passion for the human condition and how travel and the incentive industry achieved her life affirming belief. Jane's life exemplified that we are always stronger united than we are when we act alone.

I will remember Jane as a beautiful, intelligent, benevolent woman whose life tenet was one of generosity, humor and incredible love for her family and friends.

I have not met many people who are equally impressive, smart, with a wicked sense of humor and as well grounded as Jane.  She was one of those extraordinary individuals who touched me emotionally and intellectually on both a personal and professional level. She brought the value of communication to life at every turn. I always appreciated Jane's direct and knowledgeable approach to each conversation and situation. She selflessly shared her views, perspectives and wealth of knowledge on any number of subjects and welcomed the enthusiastic discussion around them. You carve your name on hearts, not on tombstones. Jane's legacy is etched into the hearts and minds of all who have crossed her path.