Last year, I was invited to try for election as Vice President of IABSE, the Internationla Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering. In total, we were five candidates for three positions (the organization has 11 Vice Presidents, each with their different tasks). My run was unsuccessful, but I learned a lot from it, so today I wanted to reflect on the experience and my lessons learned.
Certainly, it was clear for me that I was the youngest and least experienced of the candidates. My pitch and vision focused on sustainability, diversity, and inclusion in IABSE. I also advocated for more attention to student and young members, and for reflecting on how we can better advocate for the profession.
The process started with an invite from the Executive Committee, asking me for my availability to run for candidate. Then, after confirming my availability, I had to put together a two-page CV and a 500-word vision for the institution. This information was then shared with the Permanent Committee, which has delegates representing all member countries.
In October, the annual Permanent Committee meeting happened, giving each candidate two minutes to make their case. The meeting covered various topics, including the election. Unfortunately, I landed in fourth place, just missing out on a VP role.
So, what did I learn from this experience (in case I would considering trying again in the future):
- Strategic networking: Building stronger ties with my national group in Ecuador is essential for securing support during elections. This time, I did not manage to get the support from my national group, and so far, it has been difficult to network with my national group. I am still trying to find ways to get accepted into the local network.
- Personal growth within the organization: I recognize the need for more involvement and growth (and visibility, more than anything) within IABSE before considering another shot at the vice president role.
- Active participation: Committing to showing up at more events to boost visibility within the organization. I have not been traveling much in the past years during and after maternity leave, and then because of the pandemic.
- National group engagement: Stressing the importance of reaching out to national groups to ensure active participation and support during campaigns. Hopefully, I will be able to network better with my national and neighboring countries’ national groups in the future to get their support for a potential future candidacy.
In conclusion, my VP bid didn’t pan out as hoped, but it taught me valuable lessons. I’m focused on growing within IABSE, building a solid network nationally and internationally, and figuring out how I can manage to get the support from my national group for future leadership endeavors. The journey might not have ended in victory, but it’s a stepping stone for what comes next – and it was a fun ride.