The Latest Project
I’ve kept very busy the last six months learning a new position at work and studying for an exam that I am taking later this year in pursuit of a professional designation. I have cut out the bulk of my volunteer work temporarily, until I pass the exam.
One area where I have kept some responsibility is my involvement in the local chapter of a professional organization that I belong to. In September of 2009, our chapter President-Elect asked if I would chair our chapter’s biennial conference. Every other year, our chapter hosts a two half day conference for experienced professionals. We have speakers that come and present on all areas of discipline related to financial planning.
I agreed to chair our fifth event to be held on the Plaza in May 2011. I had 20 months to plan….I had attended the event in the past and served on the last event’s planning committee, so I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to accomplish:
- Start the planning process early
- Establish a good team of accountable and reliable experienced professionals to help with the planning process
- Make this our best conference yet
- Lay a good foundation for the next conference chair
We set the date for the conference and then a couple of months later, I had a meeting with our chapter administrator and current chapter president to sketch out a plan of action. Over the next several months, I developed a plan of work and started putting the team together.
I made a list of the people who I respect the most in this city and in the profession and started making phone calls. My goal was to form a steering committee that would meet for half-day retreat style meeting to brainstorm ideas and come up with the theme, format, and content for the conference. I was able to get commitments from 15 people with various business background and practice types, including to folks from my firm who I really look up to and four former chapter presidents. We met starting with breakfast and ending with lunch on a Friday in May 2010.
I have to admit that I was very nervous about leading a five hour meeting with folks that were two-three times my age with much more education and experience than me. I had a few sleepless nights preparing and leading up to the meeting. All that stressing….and the meeting was fantastic. We came up with a lot of great ideas and laid a very good framework for the planning committee.
The next step was to come up with a plan of work that included the following areas:
- speakers and content
Normally, our chapter administrator would take care of all of the logistics including registration, venue management, etc, so I decided that I would take on the budgeting process and securing sponsorships. I asked a good friend and former chapter president to take the lead on the speakers and content. I found two marketing co-chairs to spearhead our marketing efforts.
We had a GREAT team! This was our fifth event and we had never had a formal budgeting process, so I helped create the budget to submit to our treasurer and board of directors for approval. We had never had a marketing plan or devoted much money to marketing and promotion. I worked with the marketing co-chairs and we developed a plan and timeline. In the past, most of our speakers were local, or provided by companies that were trying to pedal products. The speaker chair put a team together to research nationally known experts on the topics that we wanted presented.
The planning process was long and hard and we had several challenges.
But…..it all came together for two great days on the Plaza….