The IIBA (and similar organisations) are built on a community of volunteers who make our industry thrive. When I was still in the UK, I would attend industry events in the evening on subjects that interested me like Benefits Management, Data Analysis, Process Mining etc. Each one was a presented who knew their stuff and delivered content to my ears that I could take back to my own work.
During one session, the host running the event said that It was all run by volunteers and would anyone like to join? Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a ‘joiner’. And I was involved in event management when I was a teenager. I put my name down, they interviewed me to make sure I was the right fit, then I joined the IIBA North of England squad. I was with them for about three years helping to organise and run events. We sourced speakers, we found sponsors, we found locations, we advertised, even catered. We had wine and beer thanks to our sponsors, so it made the events casual after a working day but still informative. We had weekly committee meetings on the phone because we were located across the whole of the north of England. We collaborated on spreadsheets and marketing materials and were quite the tight unit. At one point we hosted Kevin Brennan of BABOK fame for a speaking event and had drinks afterwards. It felt like meeting a BA celebrity!
From these events, I met hundreds of BAs. They were all likeminded in wanting to further their learning about the industry and I made many friends. What really struck me was just how grateful the attendees were at the events we hosted because they were able to spend such a small amount of money to get great content.
Then I moved to Australia! I had to leave my UK team behind and immediately joined the Brisbane IIBA Committee. It was hosting a joint event with the CMI (Change Management Institute) that I made a connection to someone who recommended me for an Organisational Manager Role! I couldn’t believe the opportunity but I took it. That was a connection I couldn’t have made any other way.
The big one was when a former colleague Hugh Peterken called me out of the blue and asked me what I was up to. We made small talk and then he said that the President on the IIBA Australia Board of Directors had just left and Hugh, as Vice President, took up the mantle. I congratulated him of course and then he asked me outright if I would take over from him as the Vice President! There were only 5 months left of the term and he thought I would be a good fit. Despite having absolutely no clue what a Vice President was required to do, I said yes. A couple of the Board members spoke to me to make sure Hugh had made the right decision and they all agreed to have me aboard.
Those two and a half years were just awesome. My main remit, apart from being the President’s proxy, was to support and manage the branches across Australia. This was perfect for my natural inclination towards coaching and mentoring. I had monthly catch ups with the Branch Chairs in four cities and reported back to the Board and IIBA Global. One huge undertaking was relaunching a committee in Perth, Western Australia, that had dwindled down to one person who was stepping down. I put out a call for volunteers, interviewed them all, and I settled on a committee. The filled roles such as Branch Chair, Events, Education, Sponsorship and support. To get them gelling, I flew to Perth (which is a 5 hours flight away!) and I spent a weekend doing a planning session with the members. We combined my trip with their first event where I was the speaker. We had a full house! Perth had a sponsor, a location, a full committee, a calendar of events and was functioning perfectly. They may have had a few changes in personnel, but they are functioning and running BA Professional Days every year. They have a healthy Education remit where the run the certification courses from ECBA to CBAP.
Being on the Board gave me a lot of respect for my peers. Some of their portfolios were huge and they were supporting the committee members at the Branch level whilst taking direction and giving feedback at the global level. The logistics taught me a lot about running a business too. Because a Board often sits at the top of a business. There was governance and legislation and tightly run meetings so all matters were heard.
I felt pride in supporting the Branch Chairs because I knew I was enabling them to support their committees to run education and events to make connections happen.
If you want to further your career, I advise you put your hand up and volunteer, who knows where it will take you.