Written by Beth McNamee, former Research Manager
As I write this—my first and last blog post for 501(see)—I feel a mix of excitement and sadness. Shortly, I will leave McKinley to pursue my MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I eagerly look forward to the two years ahead, but it will be difficult to leave McKinley after almost four incredible years. I have had the opportunity to work with amazing colleagues and clients, to do interesting and challenging work and to learn more than I ever imagined possible. With that in mind, I’d like to share the most valuable lessons I’ve learned during my time here:
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: I feel very fortunate to have worked for a company where everyone feels mutual respect and I strongly believe this positive environment has contributed to McKinley’s growth. As we went through the process of re-branding our company, everyone not just had a voice, but an equal voice. All staff ideas and opinions were considered, creating a greater sense of community and a new identity that truly represented who we are. Additionally, the respect we have for each other enhances our ability to deliver excellent work. On any given day, I can pop into any office to ask for advice, bounce ideas off a colleague or seek feedback. We are all very busy but because we are committed to one another, we always make time to help each other do our jobs better. The culture of respect greatly contributed to my satisfaction as an employee and the quality of work I produced.
- No risk, no reward: An accomplished association executive once told me the secret to successful innovation – test many new ideas; some won’t work and if that’s the case you learn and move on; but some will work and these riskier ventures are the ones that bring organizations ahead of the curve. I know this is true from my personal experience as well. Working at McKinley, I had the opportunity to try many new and unfamiliar functions. These roles helped me strengthen my analytical abilities, communication skills, and professional competence. As I begin business school, I know I will be well-served by going outside of my comfort zone when I select classes, projects, and extracurricular activities.
- Embrace criticism: This may be the most important lesson. It’s great to have strengths validated, but true growth requires understanding your weaknesses. Thanks to candid feedback from my colleagues, I have been able to identify and tackle areas in need of improvement. As a result, I am a more capable and confident professional. I have seen the same results with associations. It’s not easy to seek out criticism, but many of our clients do precisely that when they engage us on research and consulting projects. These organizations who actively strive to understand their weaknesses see greater success over time.
Thanks to all who have shaped this wonderful experience for me. I know my time at McKinley has prepared me well for the challenges ahead and I look forward to reporting back from the Windy City!