What can I do to help?

Since joining ICSA a couple of years ago, two key responses have emerged almost every time I speak with members. The first is the familiar refrain that 'nobody knows who we are!' The second, which quickly follows as I outline some of the initiatives that we have launched (or plan to shortly) is the equally insisted question, 'What can I do to help?'

The latter question is heartening. I quickly recognised that a successful professional body has a symbiotic relationship with its membership. We can't do everything we want to with only a small central team and members can't generate the momentum behind initiatives on their own without support from the centre. Together we can achieve much more than we each can individually.

That said, those of you who have asked me the question directly may have been disappointed by the unstructured jumble of words that came out of my mouth: there are so many items on the to do list that my brain on occasions just clouds over. So here is a better stab at an answer.

The first thing we need to tackle is the 'nobody-knows-who-we-are' problem. Where to start? Where better than in schools or colleges, as many of you have suggested. It is clearly not possible for the team in London to get round thousands of secondary schools and colleges – even if we limited this to the UK. But if we mobilise the membership ( that's you!), we can broaden this reach but this is still a considerable task. Fortunately, there is a not-for-profit organisation geared precisely towards making this happen - Inspiring the Future, which helps to match professionals with schools and colleges, enabling the former to demystify their work and inspire students.

We are pleased to be supporting the work of Inspiring the Future. If you'd like to get involved take just five minutes to register your interest and they will do the rest, connecting you with a school or college near you when they are planning their next careers event. In turn, when your time comes, we can provide you with materials - including a suitably tailored presentation (should you wish to use one). If only a fraction of you gave only one hour a year to this initiative, what a difference that would make to everyone’s general understanding of the chartered secretary.

Our next challenge of course is to ensure that new students and graduates have the right opportunities to gain relevant work experience, the critical entry point to a permanent role. We know this can be difficult, and a deterrent to attracting the best of the best. You might be able to help here too. Our strategic recruitment partner – DMJ – have launched a service to assist students and graduates in securing internships or other short contract work. The service is called Proceed, and if you are an employer who needs occasional temporary help or who could create a work experience opportunity for a new graduate, do contact the helpful people at Proceed to find out how the service works.

So, please, make a New Year’s Resolution (really, it’s not too late) to sign-up with Inspiring the Future or to contact Proceed. One day in the near future when asked what you do by a stranger at a party you may see his or her face lighting up in recognition when you say: 'I’m a chartered secretary.'

Chris Glennie is Business Development Director for ICSA. In this role, he is responsible for the development of the Institute's portfolio of qualifications, the development and smooth running of all member and student services, as well as all marketing communications activity

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