Passionate about startups and processes, our Operations Manager takes us through her experiences at Concordia over the past year, and shares her perspectives around what lies ahead for the organization over the coming months.
You joined Concordia at a crucial moment in the organization’s development. How do you think your background and passion for startups have impacted Concordia’s growth over the last year?
I think my passion for implementing processes has been useful at a time when the organization has been going through a period of growth. The Concordia team has built a very strong organizational foundation and a strong brand through past summits, so it’s really nice to be able to scale that further and to help craft new models of funding for the organization, as well as processes relating to hiring and feedback for staff. I take much joy in implementing these kinds of things to make everybody’s jobs easier. I find this to be what I’m very passionate about: helping people focus on what they do best and not waste their time on things that can be improved with simple processes.
Likewise, we are exploring so many new ways of scaling the organization, so, for me, this means applying a lot of the strategies that you would explore in a for-profit model and bringing them into a not-for-profit space. Because, fundamentally, we are generating impact and finding ways to measure a return on our activities (in the for-profit world, there’s a lot of talk about return on investment and increasing value), and I think that as a non-profit it’s nice to have an offering that creates value for the people that partner and engage with us. I see a business model there, and that’s kind of the entrepreneurial spirit: how do you create value?
What wakes you up in the mornings and inspires you to come to Concordia?
I think the team is very unique. Everyone here is very talented and driven, and I thoroughly enjoy working with everyone. Everybody has a great personality, everybody has great educational backgrounds, and everybody is very passionate about the things that they are working on. It’s always inspiring to learn from your co-workers, and that really makes me enjoy coming to work every day.
What challenges do you think Concordia will face this year, and how is the organization preparing for these?
I think we have a very ambitious growth trajectory as far as programming goes. In my view, the biggest challenge is topping last year’s Annual Summit, which was our biggest, our most successful, and our best planned; all the pieces just went so well together last year and everything was such a success, so I think the biggest challenge is really topping that. Every year our summits have increased in scale, but last year really raised the bar, and continuing on that growth path is going to be a challenge. But, with everybody’s expertise and passion, I think we will be able to maintain the same level as last year, at least!
Another challenge, to my mind, is highlighting the work of the new Partnership Development Department and rolling that out so that we can start tracking our impact and the connections that we make. I think the team is incredibly strong so I’m confident they will be able to step up to that challenge.
Who was your favorite speaker at 2017 Annual Summit, and why did that person resonate particularly well with you?
Well, that is a tough one. I might be biased, but I really enjoyed Carlos Vives, particularly his speaking element. I think he brought a lot of vibrancy with his performance, but what touched me the most was his anecdote about his foundation and its genesis. I was very inspired by how eloquent he was and the mission behind what he was doing. As far as inspiration goes, he is the one who inspired me the most.
Vives talked about his foundation Tras La Perla, and the history behind it. He also told the audience a story about Santa Marta’s foundation and about a conqueror who came to Colombia, Rodrigo de Bastidas. What Bastidas did differently was that he actually befriended the natives—he became their friends and asked for permission to create Santa Marta, as an agreement between the Spanish people and the native community (in a true partnership model). Unfortunately, there was a second group that came with the goal of conquering and they tried to kill Bastidas. However, all the natives he had befriended came to his defense, seeking to save his life. Bastidas’ approach was quite inclusive and incredibly enlightening.
To watch the Carlos Vives performance at the 2017 Concordia Annual Summit, click here (8:28:00)
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
I would definitely choose teleportation! I can’t think of any other power that could yield anything more luxurious than additional time…time saved by no longer having to commute (by choice, of course)!