Why I Joined the Gift Card Industry

By Benita Johnson, CPIM, IGCC President

I began my journey to the role of the Incentive Gift Card Council (IGCC) President in 2013 when I first joined IGCC as a member representing Applebee’s and IHOP’s B2B gift card programs. The IGCC is a strategic industry group within the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) created to provide an awareness of gift cards and certificates as a viable option for use in premium and incentive programs.

Prior, I was an Accounting Supervisor, overseeing gift card fulfillment and several other accounting functions. One of my strengths was developing relationships and working with gift card vendors and resellers. It was a natural fit to move from supervising gift card fulfillment to managing B2B.

In 2013 I attended my first gift card conference – Prepaid Payments in Florida. I was awed and inspired by how my colleagues sat in groups, discussing how we could make the gift card industry better. I watched my peers, some of whom were competitors, in conversation with each other discussing how to improve this or solve that. I was enthralled and motivated to get involved.

I loved being a part of an industry that comprised people who genuinely cared. They cared not only about their brand’s success but also about others. As IGCC Member and 2021 IMA President’s Award recipient, Heather Abbott, CPIM, affirms: “Working together to help one another is what this industry is all about.” Despite being competitors in the gift card space, several took me under their wing. Bill Wagner (Bass Pro), Bridget Moen, Jennifer Porras, Shawn Howard (Applebee’s), and Shaun Krusmark (Transaction Wireless) mentored me in the different nuisances of the business and encouraged me to speak and share ideas. After years of feeling like I was missing something in my career, I felt at home. The path I was on felt right.

After several conferences, I decided to run for a director-at-large position on the IGCC Board. I wanted to be a part of the group establishing best practices, networking with peers to find solutions to common problems, and creating change through education. I felt like I needed to be involved to contribute in a meaningful way.

Now that the IGCC Board elections are underway and with only a few months left in my presidency, I look back and am grateful for how much we, as an organization and community, accomplished in the last 12 months. We:

  • Organized two successful gift card conferences with education sessions and networking opportunities;
  • Launched a new Diversity-in-Gift-Cards website with the RGCA to provide DEI resources for the gift card industry;
  • Formed a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Advisory Board; and
  • Held monthly member conversations and webinars to educate members and gift card professionals.

I’m proud of everything our organization has achieved and look forward to the future.