By Kelsey Seitz
(Alpha Lambda chapter, University of Minnesota)
Let me open with some very honest comments. As a Consultant, things are not always easy; there are long days of travel with extra hours of work once you arrive at your destination. There are things to follow-up on and others o do in the present time, all the while needing to plan for the weeks ahead. While conducting business, you also have to balance personal time. It is fair to say that life as a consultant can be strenuous and filled with many competing priorities, but from experience, I can endorse the benefits of the chapter consultant program time and time again because the rewards are 100 percent worth the hard work.
Upon graduation from the University of Minnesota in 2009, I had the privilege of being selected as an Alpha Chi Omega chapter consultant. Over just one short year, I gained many experiences and was able grow my professional skills. Moreover, I was placed in a very unique environment where I was able to build my own personal network of mentors and friends. I was able to have a fun, yet meaningful transition from the college life to the life of a professional woman. Certain successes in my current role, serving as a dedicated relationship manager to 60 preeminent healthcare organizations, can be traced back to my time as a chapter consultant. Among the skills that I learned in that one year include, but are not solely limited to: introduction to client and project management, effective communication, negotiation and the power to say no, cultivation of my presence among peers and other leaders, and presentation skills.
To further paint the picture, I’ve provided some thoughts and realistic examples in the following:
During the 2009-10 year, I served as a consultant in the Southeast Region of the United States—serving chapters from Texas to the Carolinas. As I quickly learned, these southern chapters do things a little differently than my Midwestern chapter did. Not a bad thing at all, it was actually very exciting. I had to adapt and change my teaching style to meet their needs.
Similarly in my current role, I have clients focused on cardiovascular, others on cancer services, while some in outpatient imaging. It is incredibly important for me to understand their needs, all which are very different, and change my approach with each to ensure we are working together to meet their key learning objectives and goals across a given year.
With recruitment, academic success, financial responsibility and philanthropy all being important to Alpha Chi, it is equally important for a consultant to help chapters set their goals, set up programs and tasks to meet those goals, as well as manage the goals appropriately throughout a given timeframe. With 25-plus chapters in your purview, that can be a lot of project management.
Similarly in my current role, with multiple contacts—internally and externally—working in multiple divisions, and many research engagements at an organization at any one time, it is incredibly important that I am able to appropriately track projects, delegate tasks and report back to my leadership team throughout the process.
Cultivation of an Executive Presence and Presentation Skills
As a consultant, you have to give a presentation during each chapter visit. These can be intimate sessions or they can be in front of 150-plus chapter women. For some, this can be fairly intimidating (and I cannot lie, it certainly was for me in the beginning), but it has given me the confidence to sit at a table with Chief Executives and key stakeholders to facilitate membership presentations in my current role.
Always have to save the best for last; communication is so important in every aspect of our personal and professional lives. As a chapter consultant, you will learn how to change your approach and demeanor when speaking with a chapter woman versus a fraternity/sorority advisor versus other consultants in the field.
Similarly at my company, I need to think about how I talk to an associate just as much as I think about my conversations, language and presence around our executive directors. Also, my conversations with colleagues are going to look and sound different than those conversations with my clients.
Today, I work at a global research, technology and consulting firm partnering with 3,700-plus organizations across health care and higher education. In my role as a dedicated advisor, I serve as a liaison between our company and the broader industry, maintaining relationships as well as disseminating strategic guidance and actionable insights to over 50 leading medical device, biopharmaceutical and health services firms.
I am honored to share my story and provide guidance to the women who will follow me in the chapter consultant roles. If you are interested in learning more about my past or current experiences, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.