I will start at the very beginning! I first found out about JCI Sheffield when I saw a tweet promoting an open evening aimed at young professionals in Sheffield back in 2012. It grabbed my interest partly as I thought I could meet other ‘like minded’ individuals, but also potentially to meet business owners and entrepreneurs who might be interested in supporting the childrens charity SAFE@LAST that I work for.
I toddled along to the open evening, quite happy going on my own as in my mind I was in work mode so I was use to doing such things, whereas if I thought it was going to be purely a social occasion, then there was no way I would have gone on my own as I would have been too nervous! Everyone was very friendly and I listened with interest about all the things JCI has to offer. I remember the first thought was that it must be too good to be true and must cost an arm and a leg to be involved with. When I found out it was only £10 per month, I filled in my membership form there and then and set up payment the next day!
One of the early ideas that really appealed to me was being able to attend so many different training workshops. I would always consider myself to be pretty good at time management and organisation, so I wouldn’t take a day out of work or use the little bit of work training budget I do have to go on such a course, but because such training events and workshops are included as part of the JCI membership, I snapped up every opportunity available.
I have also relished the international opportunities that JCI have presented – through JCI, the world certainly looks smaller. I would never have dreamed about nipping over to the Netherlands for the weekend if its wasn’t for JCI. I would never have expected to have ever visited Japan but I went to World Congress there last year and actually delivered my own training course on event management too! With JCI I have also travelled to Malta, Turkey, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands and I am looking forward to going to Finland and Canada this year and Switzerland and Amsterdam next year.
It was an absolute honour to serve as Local President in 2015 and to lead the chamber and work alongside such an incredible team with the theme of ‘be the change’. Some of the highlights of my presidential year was hosting the lustrum dinner (held every 5 years) for Past Presidents, celebrating 100 years of the JCI global movement, launching a small grants scheme for local groups, delivering training at European Conference (Turkey) and World Congress (Japan) and leading the chamber in being awarded ‘most outstanding JCI chamber in the UK’.
I could literally go on for pages and pages about how I have grown as a person through JCI – developed my confidence, developed existing skills, learning new skills and lapping up such a wide range of extraordinary and simply awesome experiences and meeting some people I now consider to be my closest friends. As well as on a personal level, I have also benefitted on a professional level as JCI Sheffield have supported SAFE@LAST for several years in terms of fundraising, giving up hundreds of hours volunteering in all sorts of ways at events and I even recruited a trustee from JCI! This year I am proud to be Immediate Past President for JCI Sheffield and also to serve on the JCI UK National Board as National Finance Director which is providing a whole set of different development opportunities and experiences for me. Quite simply, I love JCI!
My only regret – not knowing about JCI much earlier. So if you are reading this and think you would like even a smidgen of all the positive and exciting things I have mentioned…come along to an event and try it out – what have you got to loose?
One of my favourite quotes by Henry Ford:
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!”
Thank you JCI!
JCI Sheffield member since 2012
Most outstanding JCI member in the World, 2014
Blog taken from JCI Sheffield ‘Steel City News’ May 2015 magazine – read more here.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Mark Smith