Issue - July/August 2021


Volunteer Leadership
Opportunities at IAM

By Will Kohudic, Editor, Portal

Tim Helenthal, President, National Van Lines, Inc.

An association depends on the participation of its membership. If you are a member and have not participated as a volunteer on a committee or run for a position on the Executive Committee, you are missing a significant benefit of your paid membership.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving on many different IAM committees. The first one was the Accessorial Committee somewhere around 2007 or 2008. That led to service on the Government Affairs Committee and eventually to my serving as an at-large member of the Executive Committee, a couple of years as Vice Chairman, and then three years as Chairman.

The network of industry connections that I’ve developed as a result of this participation is significant and truly valuable. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with hundreds of people from all sectors of the moving industry and now if I ever need assistance, I always can ‘phone a friend’ that I’ve worked with through my volunteer efforts.

The work on these committees has allowed me to step outside of my day-to-day job and put myself in the shoes of so many others in our membership. That experience of seeing the world from the perspective of another industry participant really helps me understand the ways in which so many of us are connected.

There are some people who may view volunteering as a drain on their time. However, the right way to view it is as an investment that pays rich dividends the more you participate. I’ve experienced it first-hand and have been made better for it.

Barbara Savelli, Branch Manager Italy, Gosselin Italy

My volunteer opportunity at IAM began about seven years ago, when I was invited by Brian Limperopulos to join the Core Members Management Board (CMMB) as representative for Europe. Today, I continue to enjoy the contribution of this amazing committee to our Industry.

For those who do not know in detail, the objectives and purposes of the CMMB are to further the interests of the Association; to disseminate information of general interest and benefit to the membership; and to make available such information as may be of assistance in their consideration of the problems of this industry. CMMB also gives input to IAM Executive Management about conference content, specifically geared toward putting together an engaging program at the Core Members Meeting every year. As part of the CMMB duties, we also help with regularly updating the Country Guides, which are available to members on the IAM website, and we support the IAM administrative staff to follow up on lists of unpaid members.

Why do I volunteer at IAM? I have several reasons to do it. Firstly, I like to share my skills and 27 years of career experience with members from every part of the world. As a volunteer, I get involved directly, and I challenge my ability to relate to others when observing the same industry-related topic or problem from different angles, different geographical areas, and company structures.

The comparison of ideas has always meant personal growth for me, and this was particularly true during the initial COVID-19 outbreak when at our CMMB sessions we discussed what tactics we were employing to maintain business operations, and what practices we were implementing to promote worker health and customer reassurance—all while I was already in the middle of managing the “new normal” in Italy and aiming at doing my best despite the unpredictable situation.

How to start volunteering? Feeling like you have something to offer is a good way to get started in any volunteer path at IAM, and it’s only the beginning—do not hesitate to apply yourself!

Abhilash Nair, Global CEO, ISS Relocations

Associations greatly benefit from volunteers within their ranks who serve as an ambassador to the industry. By engaging the expertise of volunteer leaders, the association can engage a more diverse range of skills, experience, and knowledge, and expand its outreach to more beneficiaries.

There are many roles in the Association for which volunteer leaders are uniquely qualified and needed. Their industry experience allows them to help build relationships within the community and contribute to supporting others in the membership by promoting opportunities for social inclusion, skills development, and potential routes to upscale.

Volunteerism also advances the Association itself directly. Leaders in these positions help effectively raise awareness about the organization’s cause, its profile and what it does. They inform the development and delivery of activities, projects, and services by bringing in new opinions, ideas, and approaches. This can help association to adapt and stay relevant to what their beneficiaries and community need, as well as identifying opportunities to improve what they do.

Volunteerism is providing time and developing skills for the benefit of other people in the association and causes, rather than for financial benefit. Volunteering always increases self-confidence for an individual in their own space. It can provide a healthy boost to our self-confidence, self-esteem, and our life. We are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of achievement. A role as a volunteer can also give a sense of pride and identity.

Involved volunteers can help raise awareness about the Association’s cause, its profile and what it does. The right match can help the volunteer reduce stress, find friends, reach out to the community, learn new skills, and even advance their career. Giving to others can also help protect a volunteer's mental and physical health.

Important to give back to the community - volunteering gives people a sense of purpose in the association. The fulfilling feeling of giving back and contributing to Association is unparalleled. Giving back is also a great way to get to know our community and its members. It may even help us discover a new passion or interest. To volunteer is to give commit yourself in a service to a cause. It is about freely giving our time to help an association, community, or an individual. It is done by people with a desire to do good for the Association.

One of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the community (in this case, our industry). Unpaid volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together. Volunteering allows us to connect to our community and make it a better place. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference in the lives of people and member companies in need. Volunteering is also a two-way street—It can benefit individuals and our family as much as the cause we have chosen. Dedicating our time as a volunteer helps us make new friends, expand our network, and boost our social skills.

One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together. Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, especially if we are new to an area, and increase our social and relationship skills. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering gives the opportunity to practice and develop social skills, since we are meeting regularly with an association of people with common interests. Once we gain momentum, it is easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.

Volunteering advances our own careers in many ways. If we are considering a new career, volunteering can help us to get experience in our area of interest and meet people in the field. Even if we are not planning on changing careers, volunteering gives the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and Association management. We might feel more comfortable stretching our wings at work once have honed these skills in a volunteer position first.

Volunteering can teach us valuable job skills, as well. Just because volunteer work is unpaid does not mean the skills we learn are basic. Many volunteering opportunities in the association provide extensive training to the individual. It can also help us build skills we already have and use them to benefit the greater community. For instance, if we hold a successful sales position, can raise awareness for a favorite cause as an advocate, while further developing and improving one’s public speaking, communication, and marketing skills for the organization.

Rossella Scalone, Chief Executive Officer, Magnolia Moving

My work as volunteer gave me the chance to grow and virtually meet a lot of wonderful people of our industry. We worked together as a team and I never had the feeling to "steal" time to my company as every minute spent helping the leadership council was an opportunity to develop my skills in a different way. I always try to face every challenge at my best and I thank the IAM for giving me the chance to do it working in such an important role.

Kevin Spealman, Special Assistant to the President, National Forwarding Co., Inc.

Serving on the claims committee for all these years has been such a rewarding experience on so many levels, that when we were told that one of the themes of the next newsletter was to be Volunteer Opportunities at IAM, I knew I had to try to put some thoughts on paper for the readers. I highly encourage those with expertise, no matter how focused or broad, to step up when they see the opportunity.

Serving on a volunteer committee means you’ll be working with the best of the best—can anybody say “learning opportunity?” Once you get to see how things work, you’ll want to share your own knowledge and experiences, and that’s when the benefits to yourself, the association and your company really start to blossom.

In my case, I’ve had the chance to work very closely with our counterparts on the government side, and to help break down long-standing and unnecessary “us vs. them” barriers. Many issues are win-win, and just sitting down and talking is sometimes all it takes. Captain Stanley’s “3 legged-stool” is an apt metaphor here because the only good deal in the long term is one that is good for all stakeholders. That is truly my belief, and I’ll give just one example.

The High Value/High Risk Rule is something I had talked up for years, long before there was a DP3. We at NFC have had one since the 90s and it had been the epitome of “everybody wins.” Claims for items missing from cartons were virtually disappearing, so it was helping to protect our customers and our bottom line both. Eventually, with the cooperation from our partners on the military side, we created a set of uniform guidelines so that agents didn’t have to deal with hundreds of variations. Everybody won.

The more you volunteer, the more you learn. The more you learn the more you contribute and grow a reputation for yourself and your company. I am grateful to National Forwarding—especially Pat Johnson—for encouraging my participation. I feel so good about getting the chance to help our industry, our company, our customers, and to make lifelong friends along the way. Just do it!

Catherina Stier, Key Account Manager-Partner Relationship, Harsch, The Art of Moving Forward

Volunteering is of paramount importance to the individual and the association. We volunteers are a vital link between members and the association. Every person who volunteers brings something unique to the organization. For me as an individual, I find it my best networking and cross-cultural experience, and it offers teamwork opportunities, all of which have greatly helped my career and personal growth.

I began volunteering shortly after joining the industry 14 years ago. After serving as IAM-YP chair for three terms, I was elected as the Core Member Representative at large in 2020. One of the most important projects I am engaged in is to assist IAM with restructuring the membership.

One of the most important aspects of volunteer leadership for me, especially during a year of lockdowns like 2020, is that it helps me to stay connected with fellow members and colleagues. It challenges you to broaden your experiences and skill sets beyond what you do at your own company, and provides opportunities to mentor others along the way.

Volunteer leaders are called upon to create working groups including members for several projects. Members can join these groups no matter their experience or the amount of time they are able to spend; they often include individuals who work at different engagement levels.

There are many benefits to becoming a volunteer leader; it expands your circle of contacts, enables you to exchange ideas with others, and gives you a deeper understanding of how associations work and an appreciation for the ways in which they benefit their members. For myself, getting an early start through the IAM-YP group has made a real difference in my career and in my professional life.

Aakanksha Bhargava, CEO, PM Relocations

The year 2020 served as a wake-up call for many of us. To thrive in this decade, it is crucial that people and companies leave behind their traditional way of operating a business and develop the resilience to withstand unpredictable threats and changes in the industry to emerge as winners in these new dynamics. For me, volunteering on the IAM Leadership board has been an enriching experience. To be able to work in synergy with various industry dignitaries to create a well-balanced ecosystem is a pure job. We have grown as an Industry and are now thriving as a community to build a holistic platform which encourages growth and development of our members down to the DNA of their organizations.

For PMR, the year 2021 has been a transition year which led us to explore various business opportunities which could not have been tapped in the traditional business functioning. Slowly and steadily, our team has adapted to the ‘new normal’ and extended a hand of hope to people who were distressed during the time of Covid. As India battled against the second wave of the corona virus, our teams got together to support people. We have come across many situations where our customers have lost their near and dear ones amidst the moving process, and their belongings had to be packed and moved. We have also extended our service line-up by teaming with two recognized NGOs, GiveIndia and Robinhood Army, supporting them with logistic needs with respect to food distribution and essential medical distribution such as oxygen concentrators, cylinders, and other essentials. We came together with healthcare companies to provide them with logistic assistance for transporting heavy medical machinery and essentials.