CEO to CEO: Difficult Tech Skills to Learn

speech bubbles Associations Now May/June 2017 Issue

Four association CEOs discussed what tech skill they had the most difficulty learning.

While I see the utility of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and others, I struggle with finding the time to engage in each one in a meaningful way. The fast pace of conversations gives little time to process information before crafting responses, and I fear that speed may take priority over intent and content. Understanding that our members are active in these communities and use them as a valuable source of information, I am setting aside time to engage more.

—Mary Jane Cobb, CAE, executive director, Iowa State Education Association, Des Moines, Iowa

I am 50-plus years old with a social science background and truly a digital immigrant who has had difficulty assimilating to the prevailing tech culture and adopting many forms of technology. But I have talented, solution-oriented colleagues who can quickly turn my organizational vision into tech reality. That said, in the last year, I mastered Adobe to pull together individual documents into a single PDF for board packets and began using a new web conference tool for our executive committee meetings.

—Dave Butler, executive director, California Society of Anesthesiologists, Sacramento, California

A crucial technological skill I’ve developed is utilizing my phone for anything and everything while on the go—like texting, checking email, scheduling appointments, taking pictures, and recording interviews. These are things today’s youth can do without issue, but it was difficult for me to master as smartphones grew in prevalence. I’m a person who works at breakneck speed, so the ability to do almost anything with one small device was a tool I knew I needed to leverage.

—Desirée Patno, president and CEO, National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses, Irvine, California

Figuring out how to use social media productively is hard for a whole variety of reasons. First, all of the platforms are still relatively new and evolving. Most of them change their offerings constantly, and even the ones that don’t are used differently all the time. Second, there can be an uncomfortable overlap between the personal and the professional on social media, and it is often unclear who is exposed to your content and whether they are likely to find it relevant.

—David Chavern, president and CEO, News Media Alliance, Arlington, Virginia