Our Leadership

Janet Traphagen
President

As a 25+ year veteran in the industry, Janet is the immediate Past Chair of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and is a member of the Sales Management Summit, a board for senior sales executives. She frequently participates in industry panel discussions on our hotel partner’s advisory boards. Janet is also a board member supporting Humor for Hope, a nonprofit that provides laughter for critically ill children.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped your career?

Mine is more of a quote that resonated with me early on. “The quality of my life, depends on the quality of my thoughts.” This small mantra has supported me through many stages in my career. Above all else, I am in charge of my thoughts and therefore, completely accountable for my life experiences.

What makes you thrive?

I am thriving when I am giving and engaged with others, and they, in turn, are reaching a higher level of achievement than they thought possible. That’s a good day for me!

Mark Warman
Vice President
Business Services

Mark has 25+ years of experience in finance and accounting operations with emerging, middle-market companies. His industry background includes Technology, Meetings & Events and Healthcare. Most recently, Mark has served as Chief Financial Officer for a digital marketing company and Controller for an online event marketer.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped your career?

When I was a teenager, my father noticed how impatient I was when trying to learn new things; I wanted to master things quickly. His advice: Be better every day. I gradually understood he meant for me to approach life in this manner as well; use each day to learn from mistakes, build character and be a good example to others. Career-wise, his advice helped shape my technical abilities and helped me become more self-aware, using each day to grow beyond my comfort zones. It’s greatly helped me understand business from a big picture view, as well as the detail. I continue to follow the principle in all life experiences because it’s simple and reminds me that success is achieved…one day at a time.

What makes you thrive?

Continuing to learn, challenging others to see things from a different perspective, and collaborating to achieve successful outcomes. I love everything about business and problem solving, especially when I’m working with people that care about each other. That’s what excites me the most about working for this company!

MaritzaZaenger1

Maritza Zaenger
Senior Vice President
Organizational Effectiveness

As a 25 year veteran in Human Resources, Maritza specializes in organizational development, change management, and designing training programs.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped your career?

The best advice I was given was, “Control the things you can and let go of what you don’t control.” After 12 years in Human Resources, I almost left the profession because I didn’t understand that it wasn’t possible to make everything perfect for employees and the organization. I was getting burnt out by taking all the “worries” home with me. Through this, I learned to focus instead on the things I could control. Not only did life get better for me personally, but I also managed to have a greater positive impact on the lives of the employees I was working with.

What makes you thrive?

I would have to say mentoring is what excites me. Sharing my expertise with others either through mentoring or training makes me thrive. I love the exchange of ideas and I also love challenges. When I’m facing a challenge that has the momentum to move the organization forward, I’m “all in”. I like helping people, and in my role that can mean helping people manage the hurdles of significant organizational change.

Melissa Van Dyke
Senior Vice President
Customer Experience & Insights

After two decades in the industry – 10 years of which she led the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), Melissa is focused on delivering rich attendee experiences and providing relevant data and insights to help clients create the greatest impact with their meetings, events and incentive programs.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped your career?

Of all the advice I have received from mentors and business coaches, the one I remember most was from my high school history teacher, Mr. Jeter. Regardless of how often we asked the question, “What will be on the test?”, he would smile and calmly reply, “All knowledge is useful.” He wanted us to read the breadth of information and figure out how to apply it. It primed me well. As a business leader, it has helped me distill down large quantities of data and identify the most relevant points.

What makes you thrive?

I just love people and learning about what makes them tick. I thrive when I’m working with amazing people (which I am) creating fantastic experiences (which we are) while never losing focus on the talented humans who make it happen – and the families who support them (which we don’t)!

Carly Carlton
Vice President
Technology Systems

Carly has been in technology-leadership roles for a variety of industries for 15+ years. She has a PMP certification and a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematical science. Her experience provides a successful foundation for designing software, providing workflow advancements, and producing innovative technology solutions for the meetings, events and incentives industry.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped your career?

I have always believed that communication is the key to “successful everything,” and a quote by Brian Tracy resonates with me. “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” In all stages of my career, I have learned how to adapt my message to reach a broad range of personalities and circumstances.

What makes you thrive?

Honestly, I thrive when I am supporting people, building efficiency, and helping to nurture great ideas. Technology is a tool and helping others to use that tool to bring about significant change and vision is amazing. It’s so fun to be a part of that!

Mary Wysopal
Vice President
Customer Experience

For the last 15+ years, Mary has cultivated a wealth of experience and insight, expanding her expertise through leadership roles in operations, event design, and sales enablement. Mary is proud to lead with a focus on service excellence,  further solidifying Creative Group’s position as a leader in the industry.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and how has it helped your career?

Early in my leadership journey, a mentor gifted me a sign with the Eleanor Roosevelt quote “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face … You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” This constant reminder on my desk has pushed me to step outside my comfort zone. It’s empowered me to take on new roles, actively participate in industry discussions, and approach challenges with a solution-oriented mindset. This has helped me grow professionally and made me a valuable asset to my team and the industry.

What makes you thrive?

I thrive when building bridges and helping different people or groups come together to achieve great things. I do my best work in a team environment where everyone works together for a common mission. And I’m grateful to be thriving here at Creative Group thanks to our incredible team and clients!

What to chat with our leadership team?