MSAE President's Update - October 2020

MSAE President's Update - October 2020

MSAE President, Kathy Pabst, CAE


We are all on this journey that we didn’t plan, no prior arrangements were made, and we don’t know when it will end. But on this journey, we have learned about making our organizations nimble, thinking outside the box, diversifying our organizations’ member benefits and services, reviewing financial reserve policies, and overall assessment of our organizations’ performance. COVID NOW has forced us to evaluate every process and program – and making the tough decision to cancel, postpone, or end the program or service. It isn’t all bad, but it is a challenge. As a non-profit organization, we have always done more with less, and COVID NEXT will only exacerbate those responsibilities and expectations.

Sometimes I compare our efforts in the virtual realm to the Wizard of Oz. The wizard is behind the red curtain making sure all the lights, sounds, and special effects are working to give Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion what they thought they were missing. Similar to what we do with our virtual meetings – testing audio, visual, connections, screen sharing, chats, Q/A, polls, and ensuring the participants have a positive experience – but it still isn’t the same as personal interaction. Then as a participant, I often think of the 1960’s Jetsons cartoon – a family living in the future and they connect virtually through a computer or phone – looks like Zoom, WebEx, or another platform to me. Our COVID NEXT efforts will move our organizations beyond these futuristic predictions into our new reality.

We need to perform a SWOT analysis in this new environment – and ask what have we learned? Virtual is here to stay either to add too or complement our existing member continuing education. By listening to our members and key stakeholders, we can identify opportunities for change within our organizations, professions, and industries. But let’s not forget listening to our team. COVID NEXT has changed our work culture and created new routines in our offices. Communication is key to ensure a team implements these new growth initiatives and strategies whether virtual or in person.

We are not only CEOs, vice presidents, directors, or managers, but we are also innovators and entrepreneurs. Now more than ever, we need to be looking over the horizon – outer space, or somewhere over the rainbow – for the next opportunity in this COVID NEXT world. We will experiment with new technology, assess its value, make adjustments, and start over with what we have learned. By doing this constant assessment, we will fill the gap of member interaction, whether in person or virtual and sustain our membership base for COVID NEXT.

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