The Secretary General’s Voice
– The Power of Sharing

A member of Boardroom Advisory board, Mohamed Mezghani has been appointed Secretary General of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) in January. Boardroom has asked him to contribute a monthly column in which he explains all about the challenges of holding such a position. This is Mohamed’s sixth contribution, in which he reflects on the power of sharing

I am writing this end of July. For most of you, this time coincides with the traditional summer break, the so-called annual leave. But this is the case mainly for those located in the Northern Hemisphere. For the other half of the planet it is business as usual, not to say a peak period for their activities. I remember some years ago, our association activities used to have two peaks: one in spring (i.e. February-June) and one in autumn (September-November). With the globalisation of UITP, the activity is now equally distributed all over the year except may be around New Year’s. There are obviously some variations according to the region of the world but generally speaking the rhythm of meetings and events is constant around the year.

We can’t say anymore that we’ll use the summer period to take some distance from our daily work to think out of the box. We have to find time to do this while we do our business as usual. It is a challenge. How to think about new services, new segments of membership, the future of the association if you are stuck in day-to-day issues?

Interesting to see that this is actually one reason why our members join us: we help them escape from their daily problems so that they get inspired. Therefore, we have to apply to ourselves what we preach for. We must plan some moments of reflexion, we have to meet peers and confront our ideas with them, we have to discover what other sectors are doing. We must take time to know the destinations of our future events better and interact with potential suppliers. From this curiosity and interaction new ideas will be born. In other words, we must go out to be more creative in our associations.

But how exactly should we do this? By joining associations of associations, either on a regional or thematic level. By attending exhibitions and events targeting associations and event organisers. By participating in fam trips to get familiar with destinations. By contributing to web fora dealing with association matters. By reading specialised magazines like Boardroom.

But there is one important rule: if you want to benefit you must share and get involved. Passive participation is worthless. As far as I am concerned, I measure the success of my participation in such fora by the ideas I collect from others that I could potentially implement at UITP, by the quality of people I meet and I could learn from, and by the opportunities offered to me or my colleagues to contribute to events and share our experiences.

I can mention several examples: the methodology for evaluating bids for hosting events inspired by ICCA, the new approach to sponsorship learned from PCMA, the opportunity to chair the European Association Summit organised by VisitBrussels, the engagement as an Ambassador of the Dubai Association Centre, the participation in several meetings of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), the involvement in the United Networks of International Corporate Events Organizers (UNICEO) and more – not to forget the feedback I have been getting since I started writing this column…

The more you share, the more you learn, and the more you’ll be inspired to improve your association. Be open!

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