Recently, I had the best lunch meeting of 2016 – our annual celebration of the MCI USA Decade Club, welcoming in our new “initiates” over a lunch that includes champagne and many trips down memory lane, recalling events, colleagues and the ridiculous inside-office jokes that come with ten years or more of working together. What usually starts out with a civilized toast devolves into fits of laughter. We have seven members now – and in 2017, we will welcome five more into our ranks, making our annual lunch that much more fun – and requiring far more champagne.
Even as we reminisce about the past, the present is even cooler – and it has been an exciting year of growth, opportunity and change for both the nonprofit clients we serve and our entire team of more than 100 professionals focused on solutions for the professional societies, trade associations and cause-based organizations we have the honor to serve. Several of my colleagues have highlighted some innovative and successful initiatives elsewhere in this newsletter – and as president, it is my job to lead the celebration of our successes, even as we look forward to 2017 towards an even more successful future.
We are honored to have been selected as the full-service management solution for a number of groups – adding to our diverse base of organizations. We began our partnership with the Special Libraries Association (SLA) and the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) in March of this year – one group focusing on the librarians and information professionals who are managing information and knowledge resources for a data-hungry global population, the other the voice of our nation’s commercial freight transportation system. During the summer, we took on management for a start-up, for-profit trade group centered on tenant representation – Exis Global – and were pleased to participate in their meeting in Amsterdam this fall.
We have recently launched management partnerships with the Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) Bar Association – another start-up association focused on the attorneys who appear before the US Patent and Trademark office – offering us some fascinating insight and exposure to the world of technology, pharmaceutical and other product patents. To round out the year, we announced our management agreement with the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), which represents the $350-billion direct-to-consumer marketplace. At a glance, these groups would seem to have little in common – but as we grow the number of legal professionals we serve, our government relations and advocacy work on behalf of our trade association clients, and work with groups that are focused on global growth, there are models, expertise and case best practices that are often helpful to organizations with very disparate memberships – which is what makes this work so interesting, engaging and rewarding.
We have also enthusiastically embraced the opportunities presented as being the U.S. flagship for a global company, with several senior leaders traveling to Dubai to spend time with several hundred colleagues who focus on association management out of our 61 offices in 31 countries. Time well-spent, as we left with a deeper understanding of the need for local market engagement in program development and launch across a global market. (Also, I rode a camel for the first time.)
So what’s on deck for 2017? Here is what is currently on my radar:
Continuing to deepen our talent strength in key areas, including government relations, marketing, and certification
Reviewing and expanding our office space needs – with new offices planned in our headquarters building in the Washington, D.C.-area, as well as additional expansion to new local markets within the U.S.
Adding to our ranks of both certified association executives (CAEs) and certified meeting planners (CMPs) – we are extremely proud of the number of professionals we work with who have achieved the terminal designation in their field.
As we take some time off at the end of the year to connect with our families and friends, we are looking forward to a bright 2017 – bright because of our strong client relationships. On behalf of our entire team, I want to thank the volunteer leaders who have entrusted MCI USA with the financial, operational and strategic stewardship of nearly 30 organizations that contribute so much to society. And I am incredibly lucky to witness so much of this great work – camel-rides or no.