The accomplishments that I’m most proud of are doubling our membership, increasing the diversity in the membership and on the board, ensuring the accessibility of many of our events, and establishing local leadership programming specifically directed at building a technology leadership pipeline. I certainly didn’t accomplish all this on my own. I had amazing board members who gave of their time and energy to help me build the chapter and accomplish our goals.
There are some things that I wish had gone better during my tenure. As with many organizations, we had to pivot to online meetings when the pandemic made in-person meetings impossible. SIM South Florida had a strong first year with more events than we’d previously done and higher attendance. However, over the last year, we have struggled to get back to in-person events as we navigated arranging for speakers who could be in-person, finding locations, and avoiding competing events. Recognizing that we need to do better in this area, our incoming president, Vyom Upadhya is planning next year’s calendar of events and he is going to ensure that 2023 is the year that SIM South Florida delivers in-person events with timely, relevant topics.
I am really excited to support Vyom in the role of president. I believe that each leader brings to an organization a unique perspective and talent that is just what that organization needs. Under my leadership, the SIM South Florida chapter has been described as “the little engine that could” and scrappy. I’m proud that in spite of difficulties we found ways to move ahead. Over the last year, Vyom has taken on the task of setting a strategy and vision for SIM South Florida and I know that he will take our scrappy little chapter, give it some polish and build it into an organization that will become an essential building block to the success of our community.
Just like I needed the help of my board to accomplish my goals, Vyom will need a strong, passionate, and committed board. We already have a great group of people on the board and I am appealing to each of you reading this to consider joining us. There are two reasons I would like for you to consider. First, is the benefits that service on a board can offer to your own career development.
In 2018, our former president Patrick Wright mentioned to a potential board member that everyone who has served on the SIM South Florida board has gotten a promotion or a new job. Since then I’ve witnessed this happen again and again, even in my own career. Board participation not only helps you with the networking and name recognition that you need to get elusive opportunities but it also prepares you with the leadership experience that you will need to be successful. Being a part of the SIM South Florida board can give you experience in very tangible skills such as budgeting, project management, marketing, and business strategy.
In my own experience, I learned about my last job at a SIM Women event that I organized. It was a job that was not posted, and I could not have found out about it any other way. Additionally, months prior to that a fellow SIM member and CIO volunteered to coach me on interviewing for executive-level positions. Thanks to his coaching, I was able to communicate in the interview why I was the best person for the role. For my current job, the executives I interviewed already knew of me because of my work with SIM and from former co-workers who now worked with the company. It was clear that they knew I was capable of doing the job even before I walked in the door. The brand and reputation that I’d built for myself with SIM and previous employers communicated that for me.
However, the most valuable experience that I’ve gotten from being a SIM board member is that of leading through influence. There are many different leadership styles but I believe that leading through influence is the most impactful. It requires taking the time to build a relationship with the people you are leading and finding out what is important to them. Then setting a strategy that will enable your fellow team members to contribute to the growth of the organization in the way that matters to them. It’s the only way to work with a team of volunteers but it also creates more effective and committed teams in the workplace. At a time when people are “quietly quitting” or getting poached by other organizations, the culture of a team and the growth opportunities available to team members is paramount. SIM board membership gives you the hands-on experience of leading with influence, developing a positive team culture, and creating opportunities for yourself and others.
The second reason to consider joining the SIM South Florida board is the opportunity to give back to the community. The most important thing, I think that we can do as leaders is to reach back and help someone else. There are so many people within SIM who reached out to help me along my journey, it only seems fair that I do the same for others. SIM provides many opportunities to help others whether it be informal discussions at a networking event that sparks inspiration, more formal mentoring opportunities as part of the leadership development programs, or fundraising to support STEM initiatives. As satisfying as it has been to reach my career goals, the things that I have done to give back to individuals and the community have brought me real joy and fulfillment.
So, I strongly encourage you to get involved as a SIM member or board member and if you don’t yet qualify for SIM membership, get involved with South Florida Tech Hub or a similar organization. You will not regret it.