Andrej Suskavcevic, CAE, president and CEO of Financial Executives International, answers questions from FEI member John G. Panetta Sr.
You have held senior leadership positions in a variety of industry and professional associations. What is a common challenge you’ve seen, and what have you learned in addressing it?
A common challenge is the search for relevance. How does an association stand out and deliver a unique value proposition to support its mission? I’ve always put myself in the prospective member’s shoes and tried to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question. Once I understand what people want, I have two principles that guide me as we develop products and services:
- Don’t try to make everyone happy. Focus on a specific audience.
- Focus on three (at most) key value drivers and be the best at them.
Why did you choose a career in association management?
It chose me. My career was mostly in industry finance and operational roles. When I started my first association job, I was immediately attracted to the idea of being part of something with a bigger purpose. That, and the ability to connect people so they can help each other, is what made me stay.
What future disruptive technologies do you think association professionals should be mindful of in fulfilling their missions?
Associations need to be proactive in understanding how advancements in technology impact their industry and look at ways to incorporate them in order to provide real-world examples to their members. Take robotic process automation: Most associations can incorporate this technology today for simple tasks like financial reconciliations. The better we get at helping members look at what’s around the corner, the more our value to them will increase.