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Knowland Hires Veteran Chief Operating Officer

Former Barclaycard U.S. Vice Chairman & COO brings proven leadership record in rapid growth
organizations, enterprise sales and data-centric, customer driven innovation to the travel industry

Nt in Dublin Readers continues to expand the Insight database on a daily basis. across the country and the worldc
Washington, D.C., 03/07/12- The Knowland Group, a leading provider of business development solutions for the hospitality industry, has recently hired Joseph Purzycki as its new Chief Operating Officer. Purzycki’s extensive experience leading high-growth companies will prove invaluable as Knowland continues to expand rapidly.
“I am excited about joining one of the hospitality industry’s fastest growing and most innovative companies,” said Purzycki. “I’m also looking forward to executing the plans set out by Knowland’s visionary CEO, Michael McKean.”

Purzycki is an executive with over 20 years of experience improving the financial, operational and business performance of both Fortune 500 and start-up companies. Before coming to Knowland, he was the Vice Chairman and COO of Barclaycard US. There he was responsible for all operational aspects of the business, including customer care, bank operations, customer support, technology and marketing operations. As COO and member of the bank’s Board of Directors, Purzycki was directly involved in the management and strategic direction of the company. Under his leadership, the company tripled its loan portfolio and rapidly grew to the ninth largest credit card issuer in the United States.

Before that he was Managing Director of Customer Care & Bank Operations for Barclaycard US and a key member of the U.S. executive leadership team. Purzycki was responsible for leading and executing the Customer Care and Bank Operations strategy for the Americas, ensuring that short and long term plans supported a global operating model and drove growth.

Joe’s background includes three vital qualities that make him the perfect fit for the COO position at Knowland. The first is his success in leading large enterprise sales teams, especially in managing major accounts in the travel and hospitality industry. His experience in data-centric businesses, specifically how he helped his customers leverage data, will also serve him well at Knowland, the creator of the world’s largest database of group meeting activity in the hospitality industry.

Previously, Purzycki was Executive Vice President of Chase Card Services, where he managed the business development segment responsible for signing and renewing co-brand and affinity partners. During his tenure, Chase re-emerged as a leader in the co-brand industry with the signing of companies such as Disney,, Starbucks, Sony and Circuit City. In one year, he transformed Card Services from a marginal player in the co-brand marketplace to the premier competitor among credit card issuers. In 2002 he received the “One Award” for the outstanding business executive in the Card Services division from CEO Jamie Dimon.

“We are very pleased to have Joe join the leadership team at Knowland,” said CEO Michael K. McKean. “The consumer finance industry has a long history of leveraging data to improve sales and marketing, drive revenue, cut costs, and provide better service to key customers. Joe’s experience with this makes him the perfect COO to lead Knowland as we strive to do the same for the global hospitality industry.”

Joe’s career did not start in business, however. The final element that makes him the right choice for Knowland is his ability to build world class teams, which was something he learned during his over 20 years as a head coach of college football. Purzycki began as a high school football coach near Dover, Delaware. After winning a state championship, he joined the coaching staff at the University of Delaware, where he himself had been an all-conference defensive back.

In 1981, Delaware State University was looking for a new head football coach. The football program at the historically black school had made national headlines the year before after losing to Portland State 105-0. That season DSU had been outscored by its opponents 437-109. They were looking for a coach to turn the program around and chose Joe Purzycki because he had a detailed and well thought out plan on how it could be done. He was the first white head coach at any historically all-black college and faced extensive opposition, not only from the community and university staff, but from his own players.

Joe overcame adversity and slowly earned his players’ respect through his unflagging integrity, hard work, and commitment. Within three years he led the team to a national ranking and, along the way, laid the foundation for the business leader he was to become. He was later named National Coach of the Year in Black College Football and is a member of the State of Delaware Sports Hall of Fame and the Delaware African American Hall of Fame.

Purzycki later took the head football coach position at James Madison University, another program that needed to be turned around. In his third year, he led the Dukes to a 9-2 season and a number 7 ranking. Not only did JMU beat all of their state rivals, University of Richmond, William & Mary, and Virginia Military Institute, they also went to the national playoffs, both firsts in the program’s history. That year’s successes led to Joe being named Coach of the Year in the state of Virginia in 1987.

His coaching career taught Joe that one of the keys to building world class teams is the acquisition of great talent. At DSU and JMU, he was fortunate to coach two All-Americans. John Taylor would later play for the San Francisco 49ers opposite Hall of Fame teammate Jerry Rice and is most well known for catching the winning 10-yard touchdown pass from Joe Montana during the final seconds of Super Bowl XXIII. Another one of Joe’s players, Charles Haley, became the only player in NFL history to have five Super Bowl rings and is currently a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Joe looks forward to developing the same caliber of talent at Knowland.

In 1991, Joe transitioned from college athletics to the business world when he met Charles Cawley, CEO of MBNA America Bank. Cawley was opening a new division of the company to issue credit cards to colleges and universities and thought Joe would be well suited to a leadership role of the new division. His coaching experiences had taught him how to be a great motivator and a great sales person, and these skills translated well into his new role. The ability to earn respect through a continual commitment to integrity and hard work is something that has stayed with him throughout his career.

As Executive Vice President of Sports & Motorsports Business at MBNA America, he was responsible for strategic direction for the department and managed over 700 sports relationships through a national staff of 50 people. He also negotiated all local, regional and national marketing, media, promotional and sponsorship opportunities for the Sports & Motorsports business. Joe quickly cemented his reputation in the industry by growing that business exponentially in his first two years.

Purzycki’s extensive and varied career contains the right components to make him very successful as Knowland’s COO. From his enterprise sales background to his successes in building world class teams and his experience in leveraging large amounts of data to better serve customers, he has what it takes to lead Knowland into the next stage of growth.

Purzycki will be primarily working out of Knowland’s office in Salisbury, Md., traveling to offices in Lewes, Del. and Washington, DC as needed.

About The Knowland Group

The Knowland Group is a proven innovator, developing intuitive marketing products and services that streamline and support event and group sales in the hospitality industry. The company, headquartered in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, serves more than 3,000 hotel clients and 25,000 users globally. Knowland was ranked as the 27thth fastest growing software company (public or private) in North America by Deloitte in 2011 and the second fastest growing private company in the travel industry for both 2009 and 2010 by Inc. Magazine. For more information, visit, call 410-860-2270, or follow us on Twitter @knowlandgroup.


Megan Tate, Communications Manager
The Knowland Group
(202) 312-5880

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