Network of Executive Women (NEW) Board Chair Lisa Walsh, who is CEO of Truco Enterprises, has completed one year of her two-year term and is looking forward to 2019. In an interview with The Shelby Report’s Southwest VP Jan Meade, Walsh talked about her role as chair and her goals for the organization in the new year.
Before being named chair, Walsh had served as vice chair for two years and, prior to that, was an active board member at large for four years.
“I’ve been very involved on the board for quite a journey that we’ve had,” she said. “And bringing a new CEO on board over the last two years has really transformed the organization and set us on a path to have expanded reach and breadth of growth.”
Walsh said in addition to bringing new industries into the fold of NEW and elevating the organization’s impact with its existing sponsor base, her biggest opportunity in her role as chair is to make sure Sarah Alter, as the CEO of NEW, is “incredibly successful at delivering against her strategic plan, which is all predicated on growth.”
This includes growing the member base, growing the learning programs offered to NEW members and growing its regions. With a current membership of 12,500, NEW has just announced its 22nd region, which is Nashville, Walsh said.
“My real role as chair is to make sure that she and her staff are successful and that the board at large has the ability to express our thoughts and direction to NEW and the staff,” she said.
As vice chair, Walsh led the search committee for the new CEO and said they wanted to bring in someone with a “high degree of strategic thinking, that was passionate about our mission and our vision and also could play the role of influencing at the highest levels in an organization. Someone who had the ability to negotiate at the C-suite level but also get in the trenches with folks at whatever level they are within their companies and their regions–in operations, supply chain, etc.”
Alter fit the bill.
“Sarah’s style is incredibly inviting and incredibly open,” Walsh said. “She is unintimidating but don’t let kindness be mistaken for weakness, because she is one smart lady who is very thoughtful in the way she approaches her role. She’s very thoughtful and strategic in the way that she thinks about leading the organization. She’s highly influential in making every single sponsor feel that their unique needs are being met by the organization. We have a lot of Type A personalities on the board, which helps to provide a counterpoint to Sarah’s style and it blends really well together.”
Walsh, who says she has a very special place in her heart for Alter, said they view each other as “one is the right hand and one is the left hand and one can’t do without the other. But I couldn’t be prouder of having her as our leader.”
Priorities for the new year
In looking at priorities for 2019, Walsh said the board is looking to accomplish a few key items. First is building up the organization’s technology platform. Having made a significant investment in technologies to be able to provide learning and access to members anytime and anywhere, NEW also wants to make sure it can manage its expected membership growth and make it easy for its members to engage, she said.
Secondly, NEW is constantly evaluating its learning programs.
“Whether they are virtual learning programs, in-person learning programs; whether they’re a six-month program or a single-day program, we want to make sure we’re delivering on the needs of our members and so we’ll be rolling out new programming next year,” Walsh said.
NEW will be keeping some of its most successful programs like Rising Stars, which has been well received by many of its sponsoring companies “to make sure we’re supporting the global managers,” she said.
Last, Walsh said NEW has re-energized its engagement with its regions.
“We say our regions are the key differentiator of NEW versus a lot of other organizations and we have some new talent that’s come into the NEW staff this year,” she said. “One in particular is leading our region agenda. The way we interact with the regions, the way we support them, the way region activities come to life will all get a different level of engagement and support coming from national this year, to make them stronger, make them more impactful and enable them to grow.”
As far as special events are concerned, Walsh said NEW is close to announcing dates for its executive leaders’ forum, which is set to be held in Florida in late July or early August. She said the organization is still working on the appropriate date and location for its annual summit. Dates will be posted on NEW’s website, newonline.org, when finalized.