CEOs share their most useful devices and how they provide staff opportunities for professional development.

How does the one device you can’t live without help you do your job better?

Someone caught on early that the tablet had great use in a business environment, creating or improving myriad applications to make work life light and portable. I can create and edit Microsoft Word and Excel documents, fully participate in virtual meetings with members and clients around the globe, and access my office PC remotely for things that need more tech flexibility.
The options for downtime are especially great. From books to various newspaper and magazine apps and even a movie or two, my hours on a plane are more productive and relaxing than ever.

—Lawrence J. Lynch, CAE, president, Environmental Association Management Partners, Orlando, Florida. Email: [email protected]

The old-fashioned telephone is the device. The issue is not the instant-anywhere feature of cell phones and social media; it is the consistent interaction with members on specific issues and what they are seeing and hearing in the real world. We purposely welcome calls from members for individualized questions and advice, receiving a large volume each week.

—Fred Hunt, active past-president, Society of Professional Benefit Administrators, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Email: [email protected]

A free-to-use program on the internet called Doodle has saved me countless hours trying to coordinate meetings across several time zones. There are so many meetings around conference time, in addition to regular meetings with speakers, panelists, committees, and the board. Doodle eliminates confusion, keeps perfect track of responses, results are visual, and you know immediately who hasn’t responded. I Doodle!

—Carol L. Watkins, CAE, executive director, National Dental EDI Council, Phoenix. Email: [email protected]

With a smartphone, no matter where you are in the world, a busy executive can monitor email, make calls, and access the web. Mobile access not only helps me do my job better, but it also is critical to my success.

—Erin Hardwick, CAE, executive director, South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, West Columbia, South Carolina. Email: [email protected]

How did we ever do our jobs before the smartphone? In our global economy that is constantly on the go, having access to the internet and email 24/7 on a handheld device allows CEOs to be more responsive to our members’ needs while traveling, attending meetings or other events. Overall, the opportunity that is afforded with the ability to quickly respond to members and provide them with the information they need to better perform their jobs has increased our value in the marketplace.

—Dale Singer, executive director, Renal Physicians Association, Rockville, Maryland. Email: [email protected]

What does your organization do to ensure your staff has opportunities for professional development?

The Association for Corporate Growth provides many opportunities for staff to grow professionally. Every ACG staff member is also a member of the Association Forum of Chicagoland. All directors and above are expected to achieve the CAE designation, and all related costs are covered by ACG. Vice presidents are provided with ASAE membership. Every member of the team is expected to participate in at least one professional-development program as part of his or her annual performance plan. ACG will also help to cover higher-education costs, up to $5,000 annually.

—Gary A. LaBranche, CAE, president and CEO, Association for Corporate Growth, Chicago. Email: [email protected]

The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science budgets for professional development for all staff. By policy all staff members who have earned or are actively working on professional certifications or licensure receive funding to attend continuing-education conferences to become eligible and maintain certification. In addition, in-house group training is offered through webinars, guest speakers, field trips, and other educational activities on a regular basis. Specific content training offered through local universities, companies, and organizations is encouraged and supported financially and in time off. We celebrate professional achievements and reward those achieving professional recognition financially and with acknowledgement.

—Ann Turner, CAE, executive director, American Association for Laboratory Animal Science, Memphis, Tennessee. Email: [email protected]

At the Society for Neuroscience, we have been aggressive about continuing to invest in professional development and individual training plans for staff. It always strikes me as odd that some organizations use budget constraints as a reason to disinvest in training and development. During financially challenging times, having a well-trained and highly productive staff is even more important. It also serves as an important morale booster and sends a clear signal that the organization puts a priority on its valuable human capital. This can have a huge payoff in terms of employee loyalty.

—Marty Saggese, executive director, Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]

We budget for each and every staff member to receive some level of continuing education. Some will receive greater funds than others, but it’s important that no one is excluded. More importantly, professional-development goals are included in our review process for every employee. At the beginning of the year, we identify areas where an employee might benefit from additional training. Employees and their managers are then held accountable for that employee’s attendance at programs to address this professional-development goal. By structuring it this way, continuing education is an expectation and part of the culture.

—Christine A. Tarantino, CAE, president & CEO, Association Forum of Chicagoland, Chicago. Email: [email protected]