Territorial Business Conference – Boyd sums up conference highlights
Boyd sums up conference highlights
by Jim Boyd –
“Credibility x Capability” were the watchwords—and the theme—of the recent territorial business conference held in Orange, Calif. Over 200 of the Western Territory’s leaders in the business disciplines gathered for the first combined conference since 1997, taking the place of separate conferences for each individual discipline this year.
The conference theme was examined through the filter of the finance, community relations, development, and general business disciplines.
Delegates to the conference attended sessions in 11 different tracks, crossing over between the disciplines when applicable for their individual work. All 13 commands of the Western Territory were represented along with nine local units, national headquarters, one foreign command, and two former Western Territory Business Secretaries, Lt. Cols. George Church and Al Avery.
Lt. Colonel Kurt Burger, secretary for business administration, led the conference. “The purpose of the conference is to bring people together,” he stated. “Even though each department has its own function, we all interrelate.” He emphasized the key role those in the business departments play in fulfilling the Army’s work: “Our mission couldn’t happen without them.”
Highlights for the week included the motivational keynote address by Commissioner Linda Bond, an insightful plenary session with Burger, and special speakers Sheila Tate (former White House press secretary to Nancy Reagan and National Advisory Board member) and Butch Maltby.
Numerous speakers from outside The Salvation Army (Deloitte & Touche, ADP, Collins Computing, and individual professionals and consultants) complemented the internal speakers to provide an outstanding conference staff.
Numerous comments were made regarding the advanced technology evidenced at the conference. A mobile computer lab offered training in numerous business software applications. Most conference sessions used projected PowerPoint presentations. High-speed Internet connectivity was available in the conference area for online session presentations as well as delegate Internet and e-mail access, both on hard-wired connections and wireless connections. The Western Territory has clearly embraced technology as a business tool. The challenge with the technology is to use it to its fullest to enable smarter business practices and decision making.
Delegates had many positive comments to share. Newer employees were immersed in a crash course of Salvation Army business practices and culture. Employees from different business disciplines that rarely cross paths had the opportunity to learn what was going on in the other disciplines, and what the other disciplines involve. Delegates met and became reacquainted with their counterparts from other commands, building relationships which will enable future support of each other. Ideas were shared about how to deal with common problems as well as sharing of “best practices” so we can continually improve.
The increased complexity of conducting Salvation Army business has caused the hiring of an increasingly competent professional staff. The opportunity to meet these people brought renewed confidence in the infrastructure of the Army in the Western Territory.
Prior to the keynote address on Monday evening Bond presented three such professionals with an award for Excellence in Service. The awardees included Paul Yukumoto, 37-year veteran managing contracts and government relations for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands division; Envoy John Waterton, director of accounting systems for the Western Territory and long-time veteran of Salvation Army service in finance, and Adrienne Finley, director of development for the Sierra del Mar division.
The overwhelming feedback from the conference is that the various business disciplines should continue to have combined conferences on a regular basis. While most of the disciplines gather annually for an individual conference, the next combined conference will be in three to four years, and may expand to include increased tracks designed for local level business professionals.
The fruit of the “Capability x Credibility” conference will be seen in increased communication and a pooling of knowledge and resources crossing over the various business disciplines between the commands of the Western Territory.