With our current cohort coming to a close on April 15, The Chief of Staff Association asked members to share their experiences with the CSA. There were some common themes that stood out: the value of community, the benefit of specialised education and a growing confidence in the chief of staff profession.
Diana Barlow is Chief of Staff and Director of Program Management at Celerium. When asked about her membership experience, she shared the following:
“I’ve been a Chief of Staff Association associate member since June of 2021. The CoSA makes me feel seen and understood as a Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff role can be lonely and somewhat isolated within a company, but the CoSA has brought me together with a large network of accomplished Chiefs of Staff from around the world and helped us all to forge connections with one another. In addition to these connections, the CoSA has provided me with a wealth of educational opportunities to better myself and further my career. From the quarterly journal they publish to the outstanding seminars I’ve had the privilege to attend and even books they’ve sent me on relevant career topics, I feel supported and like I am constantly improving myself and learning from the best individuals in our field.”
Tad Tobar, Chief of Staff at Long Game, echoes a similar sentiment to Diana, highlighting the importance of community and educational opportunities in disrupting the sense of solitude that is all too common in the chief of staff role:
“Working as Chief of Staff can be an isolated role. I’ve found the Chief of Staff Association to be a great way to open my network and connect with peers. During frequent CSA seminars, guest speakers from around the world continue to inspire and teach me new tools to be effective in my career. Looking forward to attending the 2022 Chief of Staff certification course at the University of Oxford.”
Marianne Deschênes, Senior Communications Advisor at The Humanise Collective, reflected on her realisation that the role suited her current position:
“When I first heard about the Chief of Staff Association, I had a quite limited view of the role. Coming from a national police force, I couldn’t picture myself being a Chief of Staff, a role usually given to old men in suits dealing with politics all day long. Yet, I had a feeling there was more to it than what is usually pictured.
As I read more about the profession, I discovered my intuition was right: I had found the perfect description for my current position as a Senior Communications Advisor to the CEO of a collective of nine independent businesses in strategy, innovation and marketing.
They say it can be lonely at the top. While this is true for members of the leadership team, it’s also true for us, chiefs of staff and other advisors to executives. Through CSA, I get to learn with international experts on a variety of topics, all very relevant to my role and responsibilities. Every training is also an opportunity to meet with fellow CoS, share ideas and solve issues. I’ve been in multiple programs and have taken many trainings over the years, and this is by far the best I’ve had the privilege to be part of.”
Dennis Poh, Founder and CEO of Legatcy, highlights the importance of promoting a diversity of voices, both in terms of sector and geography:
“Through being a Member of The Chief of Staff Association, I have not only gained exposure to relevant education and powerful forums on the aspects of being a chief of staff but also connected to a vast network of members with working experience in various types of organisation, from private to public, whom usually would not come together. This is great for any chief of staff, especially those in Asia, where such a role is not a familiar role in the C-suite of many companies yet it is undeniable that it is a role that is growing in demand.”
David Serabian, Chief of Staff at Global Fidelity Corp similarly describes the value of the CSA’s knowledge base and diverse network:
“The Chief of Staff Association pools the equivalent of hundreds of years of knowledge, wisdom, and experience from many different industries, organizations, and top experts into one place. The lessons and perspectives greatly help me gain new insights and see situations in a new light. The speakers have so many good lessons to share that with every seminar I take away a new lesson that I can apply straightaway. In every seminar, I always gain new insights in the breakout sessions from my fellow members because they come from so many different backgrounds, cultures, and sectors.”
With members now drawn from over thirty-five countries around the world, The Chief of Staff Association is a reflection of the continued expansion of the chief of staff profession. While it is this diversity that makes the community so valuable, members share a passion for the role and a belief in its value to organisations large and small. Despite this growth, members reiterate that the role can be isolating and lonely, making a community of peers that understand the challenges unique to the chief of staff role even more useful.
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