My journey towards JCI started, as most others do for me, during a stint of boredom after a tiresome day at work.
I was of the mind-set that I didn’t have enough hobbies or activities that focused on my own self-development. I went to the gym, did running, did climbing, socialising etc. and all were fun but none really focused improving my skill set or employable characteristics.
After a brief search for local groups; I found JCI Bradford. After reading through the site and researching about JCI, I knew this was the group I was looking for. I then saw that there were vacancies to get more involved by joining up to serve on the local council as deputy president. This would give me the opportunity to commit fully to something bigger than myself, try my hand at leadership and overall organisational development, work at the centre of JCI Bradford and helping support its great work with the community, promote it and celebrate it with members and to meet some great people along the way.
What my aims and ambitions are for JCI Bradford in 2014?
JCI Bradford has had a tough time in recent years. Following on from stratospheric success and accreditation in the 70’s and 80’s, in recent times, membership has dipped, recognition has dwindled and although passion and enthusiasm has remained high within the chamber, it was in desperate need of a refresh.
My aims are simple; the grow membership to levels rivalling other local chambers, do all that can be done to engage new members and inspire existing ones, to deliver compelling training sessions from local thought leaders on a variety of different topics, to host some great social and business events to extend JCI Bradford to other networks in the area and to continue delivering our amazing community projects (Secret Santa Appeal, Harvest Festival) and get the ball rolling a few more.
My ambitions are also simple; I want everyone involved in JCI Bradford to be glad they joined and have an amazing time. I also want to make sure that all members have the chance to learn what they want to learn, to do what they want to do and meet who they want to meet in order to achieve what they perceive as success in life. On top of all this; I want to make JCI Bradford a recognisable name in the area; where new people are joining all the time, ordinary Bradford citizens are familiar with us and our work and, through our infective enthusiasm, stir up some positivity in the Bradford area and help with its revitalisation.
We’ve already managed to double our membership, plan a new community project – the Easter Egg Appeal (with two more well on the way so watch this space), we’ve also had our first training sessions on Digital Marketing by Haroon Rashid, Head of Marketing at Khemeia Consulting with many more lined up. I think JCI Bradford is well on the way to success and I look forward to looking back on this great year and celebrating our growth as a chamber.
How my perception has changed?
After I was voted on to the council at JCI Bradford and I was planning for the year ahead and engrossing myself in JCI culture for inspiration; I was faced with some negativity around my choice to jump straight in to the deputy president’s role. I witnessed a few raised eyebrows with apparent cynicism at some 22 year old taking the helm after only being involved for a month. In my own personal opinion; I think such an action is exactly the kind of people we want in JCI. The go-getters and the go-givers; those who are willing to throw themselves at something and commit; who aren’t just after something which looks good on their CV but also want to try something new, inspire others, are driven to succeed and will stop at nothing before success has been reached. I decided not to let tradition stand in my way, brushed myself off, and continued with my plan to make Bradford great again.
Another perception I had when I first took on the role was the issue of dwindling membership rates (as well as poor rates for re-signs). Although the current members were inspired and motivated, the issue of membership was prevalent in initial meetings. This suggest two key issues for me. The first was promotion. Although we deliver great projects (everyone in the area has heard of the Secret Santa Appeal) and have a rich heritage; few have heard of JCI/JCI Bradford, why we exist and what we hope to achieve. Therefore my first act was to reach out to those in the press, in organisations and within my own network to promote JCI Bradford, get some new members and get the recognition we need to grow. The second issue was either quality or quantity of events and activities. If people are joining for a year and then not renewing their membership; it suggests that either they didn’t believe they got enough value out of being a member or didn’t warm to the culture. My plan of action for this relates back to quantity and quality. We now have 5 training sessions booked in before June, a few community projects gaining traction and a great network of local speakers and training to help with events over the year.
Finally; I did have my doubts about my capabilities as a leader (beginners doubt) but I quickly came to the conclusion that leadership is translated through confidence and inspiring; not necessarily around managing, analysing and budgeting. Although I’m far from perfect; I’m trying to create an environment where everyone is motivated and driven to run with their own work-streams and make decisions based on what they think is best. Although some may consider this either lazy or laid back, I think in order to get the best out of people, you should let them direct themselves as only they know where they’re going. I just hope to create a culture where the place we want to get is the same across the board.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Philip Cockayne Cockayne