Setting Our Sights On The 4 Cs
By Patricia A.O. Bunye, President, LES International
I am honored to be serving you as only the third female and the first Filipino and Southeast Asian President of LESI.
My LESI journey began in 1994 when, as a first year associate, I was asked by my then boss for help in reviving LES Philippines. LES Philippines was established in 1983, but fell into inactivity in the early 1990s. When my boss became President of LES Philippines, I was elected Secretary, and remained so until I became President-Elect in 2004. During my term as President from 2006-2009, we had the privilege of hosting the LESI Annual Meeting in Manila. Incidentally, while the normal term for the LES Philippines President is two years, I was asked to stay on for an additional year, possibly because no one else wanted the additional stress of chairing the organizing committee.
Meanwhile, in LESI, my involvement in the international committees began when I was invited by Art Nutter, who I had met for the first time at the Annual Meeting in Osaka in 2002, to join him as a Vice-Chair in the Communications Committee. Thus began my introduction to the work of the wheels and cogs of LESI.
Years later, I became active in the Asia Pacific Committee, which I would later chair. It is a committee that is very close to my heart because, over the years, we have seen it grow into a cohesive and united regional grouping where the work is greatly facilitated by strong personal relationships. Attending the LES International Management & Delegates’ Meetings (IMDM) and annual conferences is always something to look forward to because of the dear friends I have made within LESI.
My experiences as a national society president and committee leader prepared me for work on the LESI Board where I had the privilege of working alongside stalwarts in the licensing community, all possessing a deep professional and personal commitment to LESI.
Having worn different hats within LESI, I have decided to devote my term to 4Cs:
The first C is Consolidation: I will have a term of 11 months which would be best spent not reinventing the wheel or trying to introduce earthshaking changes. Rather, it is a time to build on our many strengths and the fantastic work that our past international presidents have left for us to carry on.
For this reason, one of the features of our 2016 Winter Planning Meeting in Lisbon was a special panel discussion featuring five LESI Past-Presidents: four present in person, namely Heinz Goddar (2000-2001), Pat O’Reilley (2010-2011), Jim Malack-owski (2012-2013) and Arnaud Michel (2014-2015), and one by a pre-recorded video, Yvonne Chua (2013-2014).
The session was very valuable as it was an opportunity to learn from the collective wisdom and experience of these LESI leaders.
It was also a reminder that many challenges of the past still hound us today, possibly because of the perceived lack of institutional consistency or continuity between administrations.
Past-President Jim Malackowski commented that, as he listened to the summary of the results of the latest Long Range Planning Committee Survey at the Winter Planning Meeting in Lisbon, it was as if he was listening to the results of the survey from his term. Indeed, issues such as engagement of the national societies and declining membership are perennial concerns.
We do not lack good ideas or plans, but need to do better in turning them into concrete action. Plans should be translated into achievable, measurable and time-bound action items. With your help, I hope to have a fruitful term that is marked by concrete action, even if we sometimes have to take small steps to reach our goals.
The second C is Competition.
It is a time for serious stock taking in view of the fierce competition we face from other intellectual property organizations which may be seen as having more attractive programs or other offerings that compete for the time and attention of our members. It
is therefore necessary to differentiate LESI from all of them and highlight the value that we can deliver, but others cannot, or which we can deliver better. We need to be clear and in-sync about what the LESI brand stands for.
President Jim Sobieraj has focused his term on the LESI value proposition and its four main deliverables: Meetings/Publications/Communications/Education. Earlier, you heard about the strides that have been made on these fronts.
The results of the Long Range Planning survey, as well as the discussions in Lisbon, confirm how critical these four deliverables are in retaining existing members and attracting new members.
Therefore, I am committed to carrying this initiative over into my term and seeking new and fresh ways to further improve our deliverables.
The third C is Continuity. Continuity not only means forging on with the good work and programs started by my predecessors, but also ensuring that LESI not only survives but thrives even under the most challenging circumstances.
The incoming Board will turn the results of the Long Range Planning Committee’s survey into a true strategic plan that will guide us through the next five to ten years. With the Board’s strategic direction, and the commitment we hope to obtain from our successors, we would like to plot a clear direction for LESI that is not dependent on personalities or preferences, but which is dictated by the growth and development that we would like to achieve for our organization.
We will likewise give the national societies and the international committees the tools they need to adopt and implement these strategic plans.
For the national societies, we will provide the means for greater interaction among the national presidents to enable the sharing of information and best practices, particularly to grow their membership and give value to their members. Although we now have fewer face-to-face international meetings, we will increase the contact between the national presidents and the board, as well as among the national presidents themselves, by means of regular teleconferences and virtual meetings. At the next Winter Planning Meeting in Bangkok, we will provide a training workshop for national presidents on leading a national society and aligning it with LESI’s strategic vision.
For the international committees, we will provide similar training for the committee leadership, particularly in making full use of the Committees Manual. After all, the committees are the workhorses of LESI and we need their dedicated, energetic and proactive efforts. As a first activity, we held a briefing on the action required from the committees in the first 30 days for this term and tools available to them to attain this.
Consistent with our goal of consolidation, we will perform an inventory of all existing resources and materials for both the national societies and international committees and make them readily available on the LESI website. Recognizing that we all have other professional obligations, we must provide easy access to all such assistance to make it as easy as possible for all of us to fulfill our LESI responsibilities.
With an eye on succession and future leadership, we must also be more conscious of documenting our decisions and processes so that we are not always starting anew.
Likewise, recognizing that our future leadership will be drawn from our Young Members, our committees will be requested to ensure that the Young Members Commitee (YMC) is amply represented. The Board will likewise determine how the YMC may play a role in crafting the aforementioned strategic plan.
Finally, the 4th C is Connections: We are not only differentiated from other IP organizations by our value proposition. I have always believed that the core strength of LESI is its diverse and highly capable membership.
When I was new to LESI, a senior member told me that the best gift that LESI had given him was that in almost every place in the world, there is an LESI member he can pick up the phone to call anytime for assistance, whether on professional or personal matters. I cannot agree with this more: many of my most valuable professional and personal relationships were a direct result of my involvement in LESI.
Indeed, the membership of LESI reads like the who’s who of the leading experts on intellectual property licensing throughout the world, and we have their unique gifts and skills at our disposal.
A spirit of generosity, spirit of sharing and spirit of volunteerism pervade LESI. Ours is a purely volunteer organization, and everyone who actively participates in LESI activities gives the gift of time. Many years ago, another experienced member once told me not to be bashful about asking for help or about simply asking questions of other members because they were all too willing to share what they knew or to open doors. The only thing expected of each of us in return is to pay the favor forward.
More than the educational content or other benefits that we derive from LESI, I believe that it is the personal interaction that makes the work we put into LESI worthwhile. LESI is what it is because its members genuinely care about each other. It is the human connection that draws us to the meetings and conferences as personal interaction will always be more meaningful than an online introduction via social media. I would therefore like to devote some effort into giving LESI a more personal and human face by launching a simple campaign called “This is my LESI.” Individual members will be asked to contribute either a written submission or a video testimonial about why they joined LESI, what they have derived from membership and what has kept them in the organization. Young members, in particular, will be asked to speak on how the YMC has worked for them. The contributions will be featured in the website, in LES Global News and used for general marketing purposes. While LESI’s members are the national societies and not the individuals, it is the stories of the individuals that inevitably draw, engage and connect us.
Indeed, it is this engagement and connection that have enabled us to work actively and tirelessly for LESI. I thank you all for your support, encouragement and good wishes. It will be an exciting year!
Patricia may be reached at patriciabunye@LESI.org.