Up Front and Centre: A Few Words from the Chapter Service Excellence Award Winners Tim Stover, CAE and Kevin Jackson

CSAE Trillium is pleased to provide the following profile of our Chapter Excellence Award winners from the 2012 Awards Gala.

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Tim Stover, CAE
Tim Stover, CAE

Tim Stover, CAE, Director of Operations & Member Services, Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council won the Executive Member Service Excellence Award. He can be reached at [email protected]. [/one_half]

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Kevin Jackson
Kevin Jackson

Kevin Jackson, Senior Partner, Biz-Zone Internet Group Inc., won the Business Member Chapter Service Excellence Award. Kevin can be reached at [email protected]. [/one_half_last]

 

SM: Congratulations on winning the Chapter Service Excellence Award at the 2012 CSAE Trillium Awards Gala.
How did you feel when you first learned about winning this special award?

TS: I sum it up with the word “honoured.” You are recognized for your efforts over the years. But, in the next minute, I then think there are so many deserving people. I’m happy to be thought of as an example of what association employees should be doing during their careers: give some time back to the profession.

KJ: It was a great surprise—a wonderfully positive moment!

 

SM: Can you provide some background on your personal life, your hobbies and interests? What do you do when you are not working?

TS: After family—grandchildren are fun—I suppose my main pastime is reading and physical fitness in many forms. I volunteer on a Rider Training board, and volunteer for a vintage racing association. I was their registrar for many years and continue to be involved in the organization. But my interest in motorcycles—restoring, riding, and racing—is
my hobby.

KJ: When not working I am either spending time with my family (our kids are 16 and 18 and spend a surprising amount of time with us) at the karate dojo working out, learning, and teaching; sailing or working on our boat in the summer; volunteering; and renovating our building, which was originally built in the 1800s and we are slowly modernizing everything one room at a time. Sometimes I get to read and take naps, too.

 

SM: What made you get started in this profession? How did you fall into what you do now?

TS: I instinctively understood the value of associations when I first was exposed to them.

In one career, I repped an RV company, and, as all industries have, there are RV associations. It didn’t take me long to recognize how and why associations operated. I immediately volunteered on several associations. An RV dealers association was looking for an executive director, and I had several people advocate for my getting the position. Immediately after starting the job, I joined the CSAE Southern Ontario Chapter.

Fortunately, no one in the industry was knowledgeable enough to suggest they hire a skilled association management person, and I learned on the job. I almost immediately started my CAE program.

KJ: Partly by accident, partly fate. About 20 years ago I was taking a break from a career in the packaging industry as an automated machinery specialist—which was a slight detour after starting out as a marine mechanical engineer in the South African Merchant Navy. I broke both wrists in a freak sporting accident and found myself with time on my hands, so I picked up some programming books, borrowed a computer, and discovered I had an aptitude and a love for it. Not wanting to change careers too quickly, I went back to work in the packaging field, becoming plant manager in a juice packaging plant in the Toronto area. After I redesigned their packaging process, resulting in a 900 per cent productivity increase, I found I was not suited to simply running operations and started a business, still in the same industry. Around the same time (1994-1995) the Internet was growing as a reality and I was starting to feel the pull that had started four to five years before when I took up programming. In learning how to run a business, I found it was not a big shift to pivot from one service (packaging machinery) to another (computers, animation, graphics, multimedia, and finally the World Wide Web). I joined forces with my wife Julie, and we started our first project programming the multimedia tutorial for MGI Photosuite, a project that went out onto eight million CDs in the mid-’90s. From there we started taking on website development projects, building our first client website in 1996 (16 years ago!).

 

SM: How long have you been working at your current job and what role do you play?

TS: I’ve been with the MMIC and now Power Sport Services for eight years. My original position at MMIC was manager of shows and member services. The focus has moved more to our consumer shows and MMIC’s for-profit subsidiary, Power Sport Services.

KJ: My job hasn’t changed since that time: in our company I am responsible for sales and operations in our Web and Web Software projects, primarily working with associations. Of course, I don’t do much programming any more, as the field has progressed a lot since those early days and we employ people with degrees in computer science, graphic design and other fields. I do find I spend a lot of time working with our clients to understand their technology and online needs, which really keeps me engaged as I am constantly learning about different organizations and industries.

 

SM: Did you have a mentor or mentors when you first started your career? If you did, was (were) your mentor(s) helpful in guiding you through the initial start-up of your career?

TS: My volunteering in the RV associations gave me great board and committee experience. I was on the founding board of the “Go-RVing” campaign, a very successful marketing effort. The executive directors of the Canadian RV Manufacturers Association and the Ontario RV Dealers Association were instrumental to me in gaining experience.

After joining CSAE, there is no end of energetic and skilled people you work with.

As I said in my award notes, Bob Ramsay, CAE, is one of the best examples of a CSAE volunteer, and one of the best examples of supportive employers, allowing his staff to be members of their particular skill association and to volunteer some of their time.

KJ: In business my inspiration was my old employer in the packaging industry who was a very dynamic entrepreneur, risking a lot of money in redesigning their process based on my ideas, and who believed in my ability at a very young age, making me responsible for running his entire operation and leading the production team in my early twenties. He taught me that my ideas had value and to constantly question everything in pursuit of a better way to do things.

 

SM: How did you get involved in CSAE and CSAE Trillium Chapter activities?

TS: I mentioned I saw the value of volunteering with CSAE before I joined. By luck of timing, a spot on an amalgamated board becoming the Trillium Chapter was open. Shortly after I joined CSAE, I was on the board! A short, circuitous route to volunteering for the chapter, and I tried to maintain that level of volunteering.

KJ: Over time we noticed that many of our clients were associations, and one of our clients at the time suggested we join the CSAE as a way of getting to know our clients better. After following her advice and joining, other business members recommended I get involved in committee work as a way to meet and connect more. That was 12 years ago, and I highly recommend it for any other business members out there trying to find ways to connect.

 

SM: What has the involvement in CSAE Trillium done for you personally and for your career within the profession?

TS: You cannot fully itemize all the knowledge you gain from volunteering. You work with great thinkers and doers, and hope you are as energetic and productive as those around you. You are exposed to best practices and can transfer those to your job.

And it means more to me personally, as I met Susan Prophet (my wife) volunteering on a committee and the CSAE Trillium Chapter Board.

KJ: As I mentioned before, seeing the example set by many of the more experienced members of the chapter: making complex diplomacy and people management seem effortless, an art that I aspire to practice one day. I have witnessed it repeatedly in committee and board work, how leaders within the industry have mastered the ability to do this with dignity, bestowing dignity on others in the process. I want to learn that, make it a part of my reality. I don’t think it is an understatement to say that I believe this is a practice that makes the world a better place, and who doesn’t want to make the world a better place?

 

SM: What do you see for the future of the technology industry within Canada and globally?

KJ: Wow, that’s a very big question. I think the technology industry is going in two different directions over time. Behind the scenes, it is getting more specialized and complex every day, requiring ever more specialized knowledge and training for the people building and supporting it. We need to keep aggressive pressure on our educational institutions and governments to continue to stay on this cutting edge so that Canadians can continue to maintain our reputation as leaders and innovators, staking a claim to be a part of it. On the other side, for users, the tools are becoming simpler, easier to use, and at the same time more powerful every day. So although you no longer need to be a programmer to use a system, you need to understand its implications in the bigger picture: understand how a tool can be used to give leverage, or change a process.

As a result, executives need to build relationships of trust with those who build and support their systems, since they can no longer always “open the hood” and do it themselves, they need to rely on trusted professionals to give them good advice and support.

This also puts great pressure on management professionals and executives to truly understand what they do, and to stay informed about what technology is out there, so that they can apply the tools appropriately to keep their organizations and industries competitive.

This is true in all industries, not just association and not-for-profit management.

 

SM: What do you see for the future of association management within Canada and globally? 

TS: Nothing will significantly change in the core purpose and operation of associations. The demise of human interaction events has been predicted many times, but they still remain. It seems to be more popular than ever.

 

SM: How are you coping with the trends and ever-evolving technological changes that are occurring so rapidly?

TS: One thing about technology: it is becoming much easier for the less technologically inclined to understand and use new forms of technology as they arrive. And it costs far less than in previous generations. The topic of adopting technology is slowly moving to the background as there will be no question people and associations will adopt the new technology as soon as it is available.

KJ: This is possibly one of the greatest pressures in my daily life, making time to review the daily blogs and newsletters, making time to listen to our staff, colleagues and competitors about new innovations they have uncovered, and especially listening to our kids to see what cool things they are doing every day. I think the key is to choose your sources carefully, look for touch-points with “curators,” people who sort and qualify large amounts of information in specialized areas, and track their summaries regularly.

 

SM: What do you recommend for new and existing members?

TS: You want to enrich your career every day/month/year? Volunteer as much as your resources allow.

KJ: Get involved as soon as possible, get on a committee, volunteer at an event, stay involved and stay engaged. When I say get involved, I mean take on the challenges of putting up your hand when a call goes out during a meeting to volunteer on a task or an event. Don’t be afraid to try and lead something. You will find the support of other volunteers and committee members is very strong, non-judgmental and positive. I can cite numerous examples of other members who have done this, stretching their personal comfort zones and doing things they never thought possible. Some have achieved fantastic career growth as a result in their day jobs, through increased confidence and recognition.

 

SM: How do you always stay so positive and motivated?

TS: Volunteer. You meet energetic, skilled, motivated people from a diversity of career backgrounds. It travels back with you to your office/home.

KJ: It’s a gift. A gift I receive daily from people around me. I try to surround myself with positive people that I admire and want to emulate, and focus on the good things they have to say.