There are a lot of issues out there for me to write about. Health care reform, immigration reform, tax reform to name just a few. But given that the lead story in "Inside Business" this month is about my tenure with the Gateway Chamber, running 20 years now, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on my years here. As I look back, I see how much I have gained from this job, professionally and, more importantly, personally, as well...
There are a lot of issues out there for me to write about. Health care reform, immigration reform, tax reform to name just a few. But given that the lead story in "Inside Business" this month is about my tenure with the Gateway Chamber, running 20 years now, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on my years here. As I look back, I see how much I have gained from this job, professionally and, more importantly, personally, as well.
Without question 20 years is a long time. When I started I didn’t think I’d be around this long. I figured three-to-five years at the outside. I had spent my career moving every three-to-five years and I expected that to continue.
But I also was at a turning point in my life. I needed to decide what was most important to me, my career or my family. I decided that relationships were going to be my primary goal in life, first and foremost my relationship with my family.
You see, my early career was spent in the international arena. I lived and worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. When I moved to New Jersey I continued to travel and was away from home sometimes for months at a time.
With two young boys and my dear wife, Ellen, I did not want to spend my life in foreign hotel rooms and I started looking for ways to stay close to home. So my job with the chamber started as a compromise of sorts. It was a job that allowed me to be with my family.
What I didn’t realize was how the job would also allow my relationships to expand. Over the years I have been blessed with talented, dedicated staff. Many of our members will remember Helen Durish, Susan Jacobson, Lauren Jaume and Mikki Thomas. They were great women to work with. More recently Kate Conroy and Lee Gole have been integral to the chamber and me. All have become family who are appreciated and treasured. And I have been blessed to work with Elaine Lomax and Bidisa Rai, who recently have been joined by Carol Gabel and Kelsey Haas. All are exceptional women who have made my 20 years at the chamber a joy.
The chamber changes its chairman of the board of directors every year, so I am now working with my 21st board chair. I serve and have served on many boards and I can say without exception that the Gateway Chamber’s board has the most collegial and committed members of any organization I know. They have become friends as well as board members and I treasure the hundreds who have served on the board during my tenure.
But really it is the members who have made my job so great. I like to say that what makes my job so special is that I know everyone. Anything that I need, my family needs or another member needs is right at my fingertips. Several years ago a number of members helped my brother save the family farm in Colorado when he was at risk of losing it. It is amazing how powerful is this network of ours.
There is always a fear that when someone has been in a job too long they can get tired or just not be open to new ideas. They become too conservative. But this isn't a problem with us. Maybe it was the past eight years of recession that forced us to keep doing new things but it is deep in the Gateway culture.
Right now we are in the process of reorganizing our staff resources to make better use of technology. We also are rolling out several new Affinity programs to bring more value to our members and developing new ways to connect you to business opportunities. There are a lot of changes on the horizon.
Thank you for allowing me to be your president.