Why do you invest your time & efforts in association work?
Associations are about people: Members who get together to exchange, grow, work and advance an agenda together. When working for associations, you have to be really good at what you do (comms, policy, projects…) but even more so be a « people’s person ». Over the years, it became clear that the “how” is often more important than the “what”: how you get to a position often has a more lasting impact on the association than what you what actually agree on.
What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?
Transparency, participation and accountability. Hence why association governance and self-regulation became my “geek” topics. Providing members with the right platform to collectively decide to be better at what they do (for consumers, for society, for the planet) is where I feel I add the most value. Individual companies setting ambitious goals can be useful trailblazers. But collective sector commitments make a lasting difference.
What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?
Status Quo. Just like any organism, if organisation don’t adjust to their environment, they become irrelevant and disappear.In times of turmoil, associations provide stability and a comforting sense of belonging to members. But the recent months have accelerated associations’ transformation: be more agile and responsive while fostering transparency and participation. Moving everything online is allowing all members to attend and engage in the association’s work, when they wouldn’t necessarily have the time or resources to travel to Brussels.
How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?
In my 15 years in associations, the change has been noticeable – be it at EU level or when engaging with national associations. Only a few years ago, I was often the only female around the meeting table. This is now rarely the case. More diversity of origin and culture is also, little by little, coming. Always give a great welcome to those joining your circle: personal connections and regular touch points for support do make a difference. We tend to forget how attending a ‘European’ meeting may seem daunting to newcomers at national level.