Hi SWE Grads!
I wanted to make my post this week something fruitful for future society leaders, as well as a bit of a personal story about SWE from me to you. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the SWE Region F Leadership Summit in Essex Junction, VT at Globalfoundries.
We discussed many of the governance changes and bylaws amendments that are coming up (See our Facebook for links, SWE Governance Website or an All Together Article about the Bylaws Proposals for more info). But, one of the things that was a really informative, and stuck with me was a talk given by SWE President Jonna Gerken, called “What’s Next in SWE for Me?”
Jonna did a great job of discussing how SWE as a whole is starting to embrace the idea of non-traditional paths to leadership, and how leaders from these paths have a lot of diverse perspective to offer the society. This resonates with me in particular, because I (like many of you, SWE Grads) have never been a section president. Up until the point where I became a Region Grad Rep in Region F, I had never held an official SWE position! I did champion and lead grass roots efforts to increase membership in SWE, but I never did it in an official capacity. Now, I have been an RGR, Graduate Member Coordinator, Region Collegiate Senator, and am part of several society and region based committees! An unconventional path, but a lot of knowledge and insight can be gained sometimes, especially when you go down The Road Not Taken.
So – why am I bringing this up now? I get to talk to a lot of SWE members that are looking to improve themselves, and want to become more involved with leadership opportunities in the society. Jonna’s talk highlighted something called SWE’s Leadership Competency Model which is a model used by the society to help members develop leadership skills. The model highlights 5 core competencies, including:
- Business Acumen
- Leadership Abilities
- Mentoring, Coaching, and Sponsorship
SWE believes in this model, and uses it as a way to assess present, or future leaders in the society! It is also a way to present positive feedback, and give others a way to work on their skills where they may need some help. Two of the resources that SWE provides are things that could even be used to help you with your career/ personal path.
I’ll start by highlighting the Leadership Development Plan and Vision Statement Template. This is a document that provides an instructive way to help you see what your leadership goals are, and how you can achieve them! You can use this template to answer questions like, “Where do I want to take my Career?” for professional development or “What is my ultimate objective and leadership goal within SWE?” I have also used this resource for things like “What is the highest mountain I will climb next year?” or “What fitness level do I want to achieve?” Each of these gives the template a little bit of a spin, but it does help you create a strategic plan to answer all of these questions! The guide then takes you through a series of questions, and gets you to list the actions you will take, the obstacles you may face, what strengths and resources you can leverage to achieve your goal, and how to hold yourself accountable to reach it. Overall, a great way to help you look at your goals in a new light. For me – it also helped me realize that if I couldn’t answer some of these items, I wasn’t sure how invested in the goal I truly was.
Now that you have a goal, though, what do we actually use to assess ourselves on, and how can we do it? SWE provides this handy Leadership Competency Model Evaluation Spreadsheet to help you with just that! I know that many of you sit there and take quizzes to see if places like Buzzfeed can tell you, “What Type of Pizza Are You?” Although this isn’t nearly as delicious, 10 minutes out of your day may give you some perspective on which of these five categories you are a rockstar in, and which you may want some more resources to help you learn more about.
The best part is that it’s simple to use – and gives you a list of all competencies on the tab labeled “Dashboard.” Once you self assess, and determine if you feel the need to improve in an area, you can take a look at the “PD” tab, for the Professional Development Content SWE provides to help move forward in those categories. Remember though: Watching a webinar from SWE’s awesome Advanced Learning Center on something like Being a Thought Leader may be a great start to your leadership development in some areas – it isn’t going to happen overnight. You need to internalize the changes you want to make, and be proactive in utilizing the tools in every day life to truly improve.
FY19 Nominations for Society Leadership
Now that we’ve discussed some of these awesome tools, I want to highlight one way that you could use them in the future. Recently, a call for FY19 Society Nominations may have crossed your inbox if you are a Professional Member, or a Collegiate Senator. This does apply to some of GradSWE’s membership, as half of grad students choose to identify as professional members in the society! Although you may not be part of that group, I’m still choosing highlighting this information as your Grad Member Coordinator because there are a few collegiates that this post may still pertain to, as they may have the leadership experience/ the passion to nominate themselves, or others, to a position in the society. Also – this is something that you could use, if your Vision Statement and Goals point you toward future society leadership in SWE.
What is on the slate for FY19 Nomination?
Slated positions available for nomination are:
- Director (3 positions available)
- Trustee (3 positions available)
- Deputy Speaker of the Senate
- Senate Secretary
How does this involve me now (if I am a collegiate), and in the future?:
Remember how I told you before that we are proposing Bylaws Changes? One of these changes will allow all collegiates voting rights in SWE. According to The Eligibility Requirements in the SWE Bylaws for Elected Positions, voting members of the society have the eligibility to run for these positions! Although some region leadership opportunities may go away if these bylaws changes go into effect, you may one day be able to nominate for these society positions, or positions as committee chairs/ chair-elects, too!
Regardless, your vote could change the outcomes as early as this FY19 slate, which is an exciting thing for SWE if the Bylaws Changes are accepted! The eligibility requirements do ask for specific experience for different positions, though, so you need to be aware of what leadership requirements may be before you nominate.
What do they use to evaluate leadership?
Ah, here’s the tie in – SWE uses the leadership competencies that they resourcefully teach us about to help pick the slate for nomination! Beyond meeting eligibility requirements, candidates are vetted by the Society Nominating Committee to understand where they stand with each of the competencies and pick the best group of nominees that they can. It’s important to understand though, that SWE doesn’t want leaders that are necessarily strong in all competencies. The power of diversity is important, and having a diverse body can happen when you have different strengths and weaknesses.
I want to nominate myself, another leader, or be nominated in the future. What do I do?
For those of you that are striving for leadership in SWE in the future – reach out to people who are currently serving. Reach out to GradSWE and let us know that you are interested in understanding the SWE Career Paths available to you! Reach out to the Senate and Committee leaders and ask them what it’s like to be involved, and how you can be involved in the future. We exist and thrive because many SWE leaders take time to build relationships with future leaders and help preserve the leadership pipeline by educating them in SWE, and in professional pursuits.
I leave you with this photo – RPI Alumni at all different stages of their personal, professional and SWE lives! I became more involved in SWE because some of the women in this photo invested their time and attention in helping me develop as a SWE leader. “What’s Next in SWE for Me?” I don’t know yet, Jonna – but I know now that I have the tools, the resources, and the mentorship to figure it out!