Meet the President
Paul Widger, a forensic accountant at RSM, is JCI Manchester’s president for 2016
I’d like to describe the journey I’ve taken from thinking I could probably be JCI president, to doubting it, to achieving it. It’s a story that introduces me, JCI Manchester and one of the many, varied opportunities for personal growth open to all our members.
I joined JCI Manchester in 2010, when it was a much smaller organisation than it is now. It would be a cliché to say that “I never dreamed I could be president”. Well, in youthful confidence, I totally thought I could.
I quickly joined the board, my first duty being to chair a panel discussion on start-up businesses. It was the kind of task – just outside my comfort zone – that I liked to nervously embrace. Tasks like this reminded me that, whilst I might think I was good at my day job, there was a world of other skills out there to be mastered.
I spent more time in JCI, visiting other chambers in the UK, and even attending a European Conference. I met some seriously impressive and inspirational people. People who went beyond simply chairing a meeting or organising an event. These people were leaders – leaders you wanted to follow. They told me that they volunteered their time for JCI because JCI had helped them to develop those skills in the first place. They said that JCI is run solely by volunteers, not because the experience is valueless, but because it’s priceless.
It was by meeting such intimidatingly impressive and committed people, and by attending JCI’s personal development and personality typing courses, that I began to understand myself and how early I was on my development journey. Suddenly, presidency felt a little beyond me.
I don’t believe that anyone is born a great leader, or public speaker, or event organiser, or salesperson, or negotiator, or networker. We acquire these skills by practice. And JCI is the perfect environment in which to practice. It’s bursting with opportunities, support and the awareness of how and what we need to learn.
In the subsequent few years I served on JCI UK’s national board, I organised its national convention, and I’ve networked and spoken at events across the UK and around the world.
I now feel ready to take on the challenge of JCI Manchester’s presidency. Am I perfectly capable to complete it? No, not perfectly. That’s why I’m taking it on. In JCI, that’s rather the point.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Bethany Livesey