🤔 When you know better, you must do better. Our president, Tshepo Matjila shares some of the inspiration behind the design of our Outreach & Engagement program.

For many years, it has been generally accepted that chapter events are hosted in Jozi or Cape Town. This meant that if there was a chapter event you wanted to attend, you either had to travel to Jozi Cape Town or forget about it.

I live in a remote part of Johannesburg, and I love it here because of the quiet environment, crisp air, and fewer buildings. I am part of the people who was not catered for by the two hubs’ strategy. I have always wondered why, but after a few chats with the relevant people, it "kind of" made sense.

There have been times when I was not happy with such decisions being made in the name of the community, but leadership is not a bed of roses. Also now that I am on the other side of the concerns, I cannot have excuses.

It is now time for a change.

We need to break old patterns and live up to our credo of being a national chapter. This means building a national community footprint, in deeds and not just with intent.

I appreciate that as an event organizer, there are many factors to consider when planning an event, such as finding venues, collaborators, volunteers, and partners, as well as historical data, cost, and the number of attendees. Basically the ROI principle. But these factors can sometimes reinforce one strategy over the other.

One of my favorite innovation hacks is "reasoning from first principles". This involves breaking down complicated problems into basic elements and then reassembling them from the ground up. We chose to employ the first principles in our Outreach and Engagement program design, to unpack the two hubs’ strategy and to create a portfolio list of testable ideas. Our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) motto is “To build the community we seek, we need to seek the community we need to build."

Our 2027 Strategy places a special premium on the Outreach & Engagement portfolio as the biggest lever for growth and our best vehicle to right historical missteps - especially as it relates to building an inclusive community. That is why we are investing heavily to expand the Outreach & Engagement program across the nine provinces. The rollout is gathering momentum and I am excited to see the evolution of the program.

Being part of a professional community is an amazing experience. Imagine if the community you want to be a part of is closer to you. You'd meet a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and skill sets, learn and share, grounded by common interest. When you choose to volunteer, the experience is even richer.

I have grown a lot since I first interacted with this community many years ago. The "vibe" that characterizes the community is second to none, and we must share this opportunity with as many people in the country as possible.

I believe a strong industry needs a strong chapter. A strong chapter needs a strong community. A strong community needs strong delivery.

I recently visited the Century City Community where I met new community members. The community was very excited and relished the opportunity to connect with the chapter and with each other. They are now no longer strangers in a remote place, but a community of like-minds with common interests. The chapter has to lead more efforts like these.

Our Gauteng team also reported great feedback from their school outreach event. There is general excitement everywhere we go as we continue to roll out our multi-regional outreach and engagement strategy.

I am hopeful that in the future, the program will bring events to more diverse locations, including in my neck of the woods. That would be amazing!

Until next time,