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Serving IABC members: 2004-05 executive leaders share goals for the year ahead.

Just before IABC's international conference in June, CW sent interview questions to the incoming members of the 2004-05 IABC board. We offer a synopsis of their perspectives on how IABC can address challenges and opportunities and use its strengths to better serve members and grow the association.

What was your primary reason for joining the IABC executive board?

Giving back to their profession in a way that shows commitment to the mission and vision of the association is the top reason board members say they volunteer, "I'm part of this because I want to make a difference for the profession," says Mark Drewell. As incoming board member Shelley Bird puts it, "My primary reason for participating is all about growth--for the association and for me personally and professionally, I am very interested in helping to develop strategies for growing IABC's membership base and stature."

What was IABC's most significant success in the last two years?

Stabilizing IABC's finances through sound management has been the number one accomplishment, board members say. As Barbara Gibson notes, "Overcoming financial issues while still improving member service was a major success. Kudos to staff for making a huge commitment!"

Incoming board member Jenni Brockman cites another success: "Developing new products and services that bring value to the average member, including affordable webinars on highly topical issues and the revamped CW and CW Bulletin." She adds: "IABC is more explicitly positioning itself as an organization that emphasizes strategic communication management."

What do you consider to be IABC's biggest challenge, and how can it be effectively met?

"Just as businesses strive to position the value they bring to customers as mission critical, so too must we provide member services that best support individuals' career goals and their ability to solve business--and not just communication--problems for their respective organizations," says Colleen Foster.

Veteran board member Todd Hattori notes, "As IABC continues to grow globally, our greatest challenge is keeping an open mind to new and different ways of delivering value to our diverse membership. The difficulty is balancing 'quick' decisions and actions to deliver optimum value at the right time, while avoiding the 'knee jerk' impulses to take off in a direction that can harm the organization and misdirect members."

Most board members view growth as both a major challenge and an opportunity. Some pointed to the transition work that will be needed as the current governance structure is trimmed from 24 board members to 12 in an effort to be more nimble and effective. One of Karen Bystrom's primary objectives as a board member is to help "smooth the transition to the new regional structure."

Identify the top three ways IABC could attract new members.

Incoming vice chairman Warren Bickford responds: 1) provide high-quality, accessible professional development to members worldwide; 2) develop new and innovative ways to tap into the vast body of knowledge held by our members in member-to member continuous learning interactions; 3) increase support for chapters, where the value-for-membership proposition is the strongest and has the most potential for growth.

Scott Cytron echoes statements from other board members, pointing out that IABC should focus on recruiting members from large corporations and that such recruitment requires "the personal touch and extreme follow-up."

With regard to membership growth, Priya Bates suggests: "IABC must be respected as an authority on business success in the business world."

Karen Bystrom adds, "We need to create special interest groups in some way. I think the diversity of communication 'subcategories' is an overall strength. I'd like to see us leverage that strength by offering opportunities for specialized networking."

If you had a magic wand and could instantly change something about IABC, what would it be?

"That IABC would have instant name recognition and understanding among Fortune 500 CEOs," says Robert Minton.

"The culture shift within the organization needs to be speeded up," emphasizes Bish Mukherjee. "We need to think outside the box; we need to think new and young."

It's simple, says Warren Bickford. "I would change our membership stats from 13,000 members to 20,000 members by the end of 2004!"

Shelley Bird agrees, "Wouldn't that be great! I would eliminate our deficit so that we can focus squarely on building and growing from a position of strength."

Describe your vision for the future of IABC.

All board members voice a strong commitment to making IABC a highly visible and respected leader in the global business community. "I see IABC as an organization that is well known and influential," says Scott Cytron. "It's kind of the old question, 'Would you rather be rich or famous?' In IABC's case, I think we want to achieve the 'famous' component by being understood by the business community and the 'rich' component with committed, loyal volunteers who can truly give back to the profession."

Todd Hattori shares similar views: "My vision for the future of IABC is a world in which IABC is regarded as the source for global communication expertise and leadership." Warren Bickford concurs, "IABC should be the professional association of choice for communicators everywhere."


FRONT ROW: Stephanie M. Griffiths, ABC, past chair; David C. Kistle, ABC, chair; Warren E. Bickford, vice chair; and Gloria S.Walker, ABC, IABC Research Foundation chair.

MIDDLE ROW: Bish Mukherjee, ABC; Jennifer L. Homer, ABC; Theresa C. Lee; Priya E. Bates; and Shelley A. Bird.

BACK ROW: Robert N. Minton, ABC: Patricia P. Jackson; Barbara A. Gibson, ABC; Colleen G.Foster; Ann M. Krzmarzick; Jill E. Sackett; Scott H. Cytron, ABC; and Todd T. Hattori, ABC, MPC.

NOT PICTURED: Jennifer H. Brockman, ABC; Karen L. Bystrom, ABC; Julie B. Chughtai, ABC, APR; P. Mark Drewell; Shelley J. Griewahn, ABC; Allan C. Jenkins; Marie T. Raperto; and Rich Young.

More details on the IABC Executive Board can be found at


Incoming Chairman David Kistle talks with CW, about his hopes for the future of IABC.

What do you want to accomplish during your year as chairman, and what are your primary objectives for the IABC board?

At the annual General Meeting I outlined three priorities: transition, visibility and growth. This is a year of transition from a board with 24 members to one with 12. We will need to prepare for this change and continue to maintain an open and direct link between our members and the board. Our market research tells us IABC must be more visible with business, political and community leaders--beyond our membership. Through activities and events broader than ourselves, we can help others see the important contribution IABC makes to organizations, businesses and the community. An organization that is not growing is dying. We must grow both our membership and the value of products and services we provide. This is the year to address these critical issues.

What is IABC's biggest challenge today and how can it be overcome? If IABC has untapped potential, how would you describe it?

Over the past few years, concern about the financial deficit has not only driven our agenda but also has held us back. With nearly half of that deficit reduced and a plan to eliminate it by 2007, we are in a great position to move on. But we still face significant challenges, and they all relate to growth. Associations throughout the world face declining membership numbers, and IABC is no exception. The question is, why? Is there a new membership model waiting to be discovered? Are there fundamental changes in our environment? Are we not offering the most valuable products and services? I think all of these questions will challenge us this year. Our untapped potential lies in applying the vision and creativity needed to answer and respond to these questions.

IABC's membership is very diverse, which can be seen as both a challenge and an advantage. What direction can IABC set to ensure it serves this diverse audience in the best way possible?

I believe diversity is the key to our success--it captures the international dimension that distinguishes IABC from other organizations. It also poses enormous challenges, with a diversity of needs, business practices, expectations and more. To meet these challenges, we need to leverage venues like our international conference--what an amazing menu of opportunities to hear from culturally diverse speakers. Another is to undertake broad based projects such as global ethics--to understand the ethical diversity of countries and cultures. To accomplish this, we will need to rely on IABC's culture, which both embraces and celebrates diversity in a way that pushes the envelope and sets us apart as advocates for change through collaboration.

How did your past role as IABC Research Foundation chairman prepare you for the responsibilities of IABC Chairman?

My time with the Foundation taught me about negotiation, listening, conflict resolution, fun, advocacy, stewardship and much more. I'm a big champion of the Foundation and proud of its turnaround; it, too, weathered and recovered from a financial shortfall. I watched passionate volunteers raise money and reach ambitious targets. The Foundation is one of IABC's biggest assets, and too few members know about it. I'd like to change that.

If IABC is to lead by example, what else can it do to practice its own good communication?

For professional communicators, we're not always the best communicators. Sad, but true. That said, I think there is a lot we're doing right. We have great member and leader resources available through our web site. We have an award-winning magazine. We have Member Speak--a forum for member dialogue. If we are to set the example, communication with members and leaders needs to be timely, two-way, frequent, open, trustworthy and credible. We all struggle to deliver on these, but I think that's where we should focus.

What is the most significant thing you have learned over the last year as vice chairman that you can carry forward in your term as chairman?

This is a hard question because I learned so many things. First, challenge your own assumptions.

Next, be patient. Things have their own Time--respect that. Finally, listen. Hear what others have to say and respect diverse points of view. I also learned about teamwork, respect, problem solving and courage.

When you describe IABC to potential members, how do you convey the value of belonging to this association?

The best way to demonstrate IABC's value is show them--in my words and how I act. For me, IABC has been a portal to the best communication practices of companies large and small, and from all parts of the world. The dividends my organization and I have realized on my investment in IABC are huge. I have a wide network of subject matter experts, authors, corporate CEOs, scholars, practitioners and industry leaders. Where else could I find all this?

What potential do you think IABC has for growth? What is your vision for the future of IABC?

At this year's General Meeting, I offered up a five-by-2005 challenge to our association's leadership:

* five 500-member chapters

* five new chapters outside North America

* five compelling, irresistible reasons to belong to IABC

* five new market-driven products or services

* five breakthrough growth strategies, success stories or best practices.

This is not only ambitious--it could be impossible. But let's imagine and aim high. Today, only IABC/Toronto has more than 500 members (actually they are closer to two and a half times that). But if we have 1,000-plus members in Toronto, why not Chicago, London, Hong Kong, New York, Washington, Johannesburg or Calgary? These growth goals will only be impossible if we don't begin the journey today.

--Natasha Spring
COPYRIGHT 2004 International Association of Business Communicators
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Title Annotation:International Association of Business Communicators
Publication:Communication World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Previous Article:Leading from the top: IABC EXCEL winner John Ryan speaks out on values and cultural practices.
Next Article:IABC Research Foundation chair Gloria Walker, ABC, seeks to set new strategic direction.

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