Maria Rosa Gibellini
Director General, European Internet Forum

Why do you invest your time & effort in association work?

I have always been fascinated by the incredible value that comes from bringing people together through associations to reach common goals, fight their fights, exchange knowledge, share views, find synergies, evolve and much more.

I have been involved in associations for many years and have even started one in digital policy with other Italian professionals. It’s easy to find common interests with other people that make it worthwhile connecting with each other.

Humans are social beings who long to belong. When there is a community with a shared purpose, you have an association.

What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?

To me, the three top success factors of an association are:

  • a clear vision & mission,
  • an up-to-date strategy,
  • on-point external and internal communications.

Driving change poses the same challenges to associations as it does to companies, as both are powered by people. To truly innovate and change, you need to have people (members and staff alike) on board. They need to understand where you are going and why, or they will be lost or won’t follow.

What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?

The only constant in life is change, if we cannot plan it at least we can be ready to accept it and adjust our sails to the new wind.

With the world changing at an ever-increasing speed while becoming more and more digital, associations need to think about their future. In order to remain relevant to their members the have to embrace change, finding new ways to connect members and create value for them.

How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?

As Vice President of the European Society of Association Executives I have a broader view of the association sector. It is encouraging to see an increasing number of women in leading roles across various sectors.

In Italian we have a saying: ‘Il mondo è bello perché è vario’. The beauty of the world lies in its diversity.

While searching for talent, recruiters should be aware of both conscious and unconscious biases that may act as a deterrent and could undermine the diversity that would benefit the entire association.