Chamber staff members, Nika White and Lorraine Woodward, have recently completed their second year at Institute for Organization Management, a four-year nonprofit leadership training program in Athens, Georgia.
Institute for Organization Management is the professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It is the premier nonprofit professional development program for association and chamber professionals, fostering individual growth through interactive learning and networking opportunities.
Through a combination of required courses and electives in areas such as leadership, advocacy, marketing, finance, and membership, Institute participants are able to enhance their own organizational management skills and add new fuel to their organizations, making them run more efficiently and effectively.
See some of Nika and Lorraine’s top takeaways from their Institute experience below:
Nika White, VP of Diversity and Inclusion
- Chambers are significant in that we do things that most people think just happens. This is why it’s so important for us to “tell our story” and tell it often and with consistency. Our relevance is deeply rooted in solutions that the business community may experience and reap benefits from, but they don’t necessarily know how it happened.
- Business owners are busy and don’t have the luxury to always attend events to obtain the critical information needed to grow their companies. Chambers of the future are finding ways to bring the content to their members so that when they can’t physically be present, they still have access to the information.
- In order to remain relevant and help members remain relevant, the chamber has to be willing to change. If the rate of change outside the organization is greater than the rate of change within the organization… the end is in sight! To be the “must belong to” organization chambers must remain in a constant flux of change. This includes recognizing the demographic shifts that are occurring in the American population and preparing businesses to prepare accordingly to leverage the opportunity of this shift.
- Economic development is changing as the world globalizes and job growth opportunities shift. Developing regions must define and implement new strategies to be successful. Competitiveness in innovation and technology driven strategies will play a vital role in creating new economy jobs.
- Chambers must conduct an event inventory yearly to ensure that programing and projects meet the mission of the organization – this is the litmus test!
- Business advocacy is a significant benefit to the entire business community and the return on investment in this area of operation is significant. People are partisan issues are not.
- Top 5 ED goals should be centered around the following: Expansion of Wealth, Reduction of Poverty, Economic Sustainability, Infrastructure Improvements, Eliminating Barriers to Economic Self-Sufficiency
- Workforce, workforce, workforce. By 2025, U.S. manufacturers expected to have at least 2 million unfilled skilled jobs.
Lorraine Woodward, VP of Investor Relations
- Customer Service – Do we follow the 4 basic principals of ethics?
I can say we do! It is a joy to come to work each day.
- Programs and Events – Are we still relevant? Compare events to our organization's vision,mission & plan. Sometimes we have to make hard choices if we decide to stop doing an event that has outlived its relevance.
- The importance of Business Advocacy
- Advocacy affects our Investors
- Elected officials need to hear from us as the voice of business
- Investors can’t accomplish alone what they can do together
- If you don’t, someone else will
I was excited to see how our Greenville Chamber Advocacy team used as an example in our class that they are leading the way! Thank you to Jason and Katie.
- Chambers of the future and how to communicate with other generations.
- Delivering value – Are we prepared to listen? We need to ask
- Why are we doing what we are doing? – Our reason for existence?
- What is our function, mission, and plan for the future?
- How successful are we so far at implementing our plan?
There is a lot to think about and I feel like we are headed in the right direction. The Greenville Chamber is force to be reckoned with.
We are proud of the work Nika and Lorraine are doing to become stronger leaders and better advocates for the Greenville business community! Join us in congratulating them on this impressive accomplishment!