April Leadership Message
March 1, 2020 marked the one-year anniversary of VLTA’s relationship with our current Executive Director, Leigh Hubbard and her talented team. I spoke with Leigh to learn a little more about her and her vision for VLTA. The following is a recount of my questions and Leigh’s answers.
Question: No one grows up thinking, “I want to be an Executive Director someday.” How did you get here, professionally?
Answer: I fell into association management almost by mistake.The medical profession was in turmoil from an excess of liability claims. Medical group practices were being run out of business and the Medical Society of Virginia was looking to employ someone who could empathize with the physicians. I was working as a practice administrator for a Richmond based OB/GYN at the time. I was recruited by a staff member of the Medical Society and the rest is history.
After six years in membership with the Medical Society of Virginia, I accepted a position with the Associated General Contractors of Virginia as a Regional Director. I made myself invaluable so that I wasn’t dispensable during the economic crash. I ensured that I knew every inch of the profession. While doing so, I encountered a great deal of “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality and the response to potential change was always denied. I knew that I could make a difference in the member experience if I only had a voice.
I started my own company, Trade Up, in 2009 with the sole purpose of helping at risk trade associations repurpose themselves. My first client was a charity case. I accepted no income for over 18-months. I pulled the association out of bankruptcy and rebuilt their organization from the ground up with renewed purpose and strength. The international organization clawed its way back to relevancy over the last 11-years of my leadership. Thanks to some amazing talent in my home office we continue to manage their daily operations.
Question: What do you like most about your role?
Answer: I’m surrounded by some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. It’s made me more self-aware of my strengths (and weaknesses) as a leader. I wake up every day inspired by the potential that VLTA has to be a national leader in the land title industry.
Question: What are some of the more newsworthy items happening in the VLTA?
Answer: VLTA has tackled a remarkable amount of work in the last 12 months. Our members were at the forefront of our activities. We immediately recognized that the AMS (Association Management System) was antiquated and prohibited our members from having full control over their member experience. In addition, the launch of the new website streamlined the overall professional appearance the Association wanted to portray, not only to our members and prospect members, but to our constituents and friends in the land title industry around the country. We’ve been told that the Convention in 2019 exceeded expectations. This has set the bar high for future conventions and providing our members with the most rewarding experience. The VLTA Taskforce to address workforce development, for the future of the industry, as well as best practices for professional development for our current workforce, has been the most rewarding part of the last 12 months. We are listening and very active with our membership. The responses we are getting are very positive.
Question: What is on the horizon for the VLTA?
Answer: As I look into my crystal ball, I see this on VLTA’s horizon:
- The Board of Directors is moving in a direction to be a visionary for the Association. In the past they’ve had to dabble in daily operational tasks. With the current staffing in place, the Board is able to spend more time focusing on the overall direction of the organization—not only for today, but for long-term goals and objectives as well.
- The staff continues to work on improvements to the overall professionalism of the Association through all types of media outlets.
- The VLTA continues to be a well-respected stakeholder in the industry. Working on improving relationships with like-minded partners is the next step to ensuring VLTA’s relevance across the Commonwealth.
- Workforce and Professional Development will be key initiatives for the VLTA over the next few years as we continue to add member value.
Answer: My father is my greatest inspiration. He was an extremely well respected leader in his profession. I learned the value of humble leadership from him. In addition, he taught me to surround myself with people much smarter than I am and to give them all the praise for their work. I feel confident that I have hired a remarkable team of professionals who ensure we excel.
Question: What’s your most-used productivity hack?
Answer: My most-used productivity hack is to silence my inner perfectionist. I’m surrounded by people who I resource to put the final touches on our deliverables. This frees up my time to attend to more strategic minded initiatives. The final product is perfection; I just haven’t sacrificed my mental energy trying to be the only one laboring over slight improvements. I’ve learned to trust the process.
Question: What is something about you that few people know?
Answer: This past year I worked with the school division in King William County to establish a foundation called “King William Business & Education Coalition: Future Ready Community Strong.”
As a small business owner, I rely on the public schools to ensure that our communities’ students have the skills that make them marketable in the workforce. The demands of the external competitive environment have increased, and students aren’t prepared to enter the workforce. The coalition partners with the school system to offer training to ensure that those students wishing to enter the workforce are prepared. In addition, we (business owners) fund the resources and technology the schools need to meet these demands.
Question: What do you think makes VLTA a great organization to be a part of?
Answer: Leading the vision with purpose is the greatest part of VLTA. Above all, the Association as a whole is able to communicate a compelling and inspired purpose. When we talk, it’s always about beyond today. The VLTA membership is driven by possibilities in an optimistic way.
Question: What has been your most memorable experience so far with VLTA?
Answer: The culmination of all the work my staff and I poured into the Convention for 2019 was the highlight of my first year with VLTA. I felt a huge sense of pride as my team executed the operational success of that event. The VLTA members who attended welcomed the staff and were incredibly gracious for the hard work that went into that event. Each one of the staffers had a personal sense of ownership in the planning and execution, and I couldn’t have been more proud of their efforts.