By Patricia Montague, CAE Chief Executive Officer 2014-10-28 13:14:35
Live and Learn How often does it feel as though there aren’t enough days in the week to complete all the must items on your to-do list, let alone attend a webinar, read this magazine, check out the latest news on SchoolNutrition.org or attend an offsite workshop? It’s easy to put off focusing on your own professional development when your email box is overflowing, you have next month’s menus to finish and inventory reports to complete. But prioritizing professional development is a crucial aspect of long-term success, whether you work in a cafeteria or an office. After all, there have been a lot of changes in school nutrition in recent years. None of us can afford to keep doing things “the way we always have.” From society-changing technology to new program regulations, there’s always new information to digest! Fortunately, there are so many means to getting the education you need to stay current and move forward. Conferences, webinars, articles—these are all great options. But there are even easier approaches, like simply paying attention. It’s all about making the commitment to seize opportunities. At an early post-college job—in the marketing research department of a New York advertising agency—I was among the first employees to use an IBM personal computer. I’d never received any computer training, but was a darn good typist since a high school class. I had no fear of teaching myself Lotus Symphony, a business productivity software, and soon I was creating spreadsheets to capture and compare data and create presentations for new business pitches. This new skill set paid off when I relocated to Washington, D.C., where advertising agency jobs were few and far between. I was able to land initial temporary work that paid quite well because I knew Symphony and had become a spreadsheet expert. Soon, my career path had curved from advertising to association management, where I truly found my niche. Much of that credit goes to former SNA CEO Barbara Belmont, a supervisor and mentor who truly valued professional development and believed it was the responsibility of an employer to provide training opportunities to staff. It’s exhausting working a full-time job and raising a family. But Barbara made me see why it was important that I find the time to focus on my professional development. This included studying to sit for the Certified Association Executive (CAE) exam, which is similar to SNA’s School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) exam. As the leader of SNA’s Headquarters team, it’s my turn to encourage staff to make professional development a priority. When we set annual performance goals, each employee must include a personal learning objective. I believe this not only helps them to grow as individuals, but as they learn critical new skills, it ultimately helps SNA to grow and prosper. I hope this issue’s focus on training will inspire you to identify your own personal learning objectives for 2014-15!
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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