Arthur W. Page Society

Experiencing the Future

It has been a dream for a long time but last week saw the first assembly of the inaugural Future Leaders Experience program. Eighteen of the 20 members of the class of 2010 met in Chicago over three days in an intensive session which more than achieved all our hopes.

Roger Bolton first proposed the idea of having a high level, extensive development course for senior communicators reporting to Page members — the Future Leaders of the profession. An initial investigation looked at the best way to construct a program and concluded that there was definitely a need for a program. Anne McCarthy and Judith Muhlberg explored the option of a University developed program and concluded that it was too expensive — and that we could achieve a greater impact by developing a program that attendees could co-create. Then Harvey Greisman and Tom Martin lead a task force to plan and implement such a program. They created a two-year course designed to provide the training, networking and skills development opportunities that would prepare attendees for roles of increasing leadership responsibility.

We announced the program to members in the fall of last year, right at the time when economic conditions made it seem as though the dream may have missed its window. But what was really heartening to us all was the speed at which Page members nominated attendees for the course. We had determined that 20 was the optimal number for the class. It didn’t take long to fill — and already there are names on the waiting list for the next class.

The most exciting thing for me watching this first session was the way that the members of the group so quickly bonded together as a unit. We had hoped at the outset that over the course of two years the group would knit strongly together. It actually happened in the first three days! Here is how one of the attendees described the experience to us after the event.

“The three days were amazing; far exceeded my expectations! The days progressed very well with the right balance of learning and relationship-building. I have a ton of new ideas. Several of us are already planning immediate info-sharing calls about current work we have in common to use each other as sounding boards. It is a great group of people you all have brought together and I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of it.

“I’m confident this Future Leader program has the power to be a life-changing experience with relationships that will last a lifetime. And our group is excited to help build the program for the future.”

Comments like this reinforce for me why it is so important for us to keep pushing to do as much as we possibly can in Page to meet the needs of the Society’s members. Given the many changes in our profession, the turmoil in the business environment and the global economic crisis, there is more responsibility than ever to lead the way for our profession.

Hats off to the pioneering leaders who made this significant commitment to talent development.

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