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Editor-In-Chief: Al Anderson
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SFBAC's Business Leaders Forum

As our careers in marketing and business development work their way up the ladder in the organization, there are often less and less opportunities to find others that you can openly share your challenges with. The old adage “it’s lonely at the top” isn’t too far from the truth. This is why the Business Leaders Forum was formed.

Here’s a little background…

In December 2010, SFBAC’s Outreach and Development Committee (O&D) was challenged with “raising the bar” for the chapter. O&D conducted a focus group to evaluate seasoned chapter members’ education and professional development needs. What they uncovered was that these members lacked principal support from their firms relative to their involvement in the chapter. The reasons were as follows

  • lack of value of programs to the marketer’s firm
  • the perception of the chapter was that of a recruiting venue for marketers
  • lack of focus on marketing best practices.

One year later, O&D took this information to heart and launched a new series for seasoned chapter members and the Business Leaders Forum (BLF) was born. BLF is a forum to share successful (and not so successful) stories about how they support their firms’ management through difficult and challenging business decisions. This was an opportunity for senior members to re-engage with SFBAC and who otherwise would not attend chapter programs. In 2011, two BLF groups were established—one to accommodate the San Francisco and Oakland chapter members, directed by Daniel Carfora, CPSM, LEED AP, and the other group was formed in Pleasanton by Devon Kurcina, CPSM, to accommodate the East Bay and South Bay senior leaders.

The BLF is geared for professionals who have an active role in or supporting their firm’s leadership team. Participants possess at least 10 or more years of experience in the A/E/C industry or similar industry, hold a Business Development or Marketing Director or Manager position at their firm, and manage business development and/or marketing budgets, systems, firm procedures/processes, and operations, as well as manage and direct staff and internal resources. Applications for participation are open in November of the prior calendar year. The group size is limited to 12.

The BLF topics are multi-faceted and many of the discussions fall within Domain 6 (Information, Resource, and Organizational Management) followed by Domain 1 (Marketing Research), Domain 2 (Marketing Plan), and Domain 3 (Client and Business Development). Subject matter ranges from a principal’s expectations of marketing in an A/E/C firm, understanding how sales goals impact marketing and business development efforts, and how to navigate your career to the top by having a “voice” at the “executive table.” Guest speakers are also invited to share their expertise in a particular area of interest to the group.

Now, eight years later in 2018, BLF has morphed into three groups – Oakland, Walnut Creek, and South Bay. Each group meets bi-monthly and is led by a director who facilitates the discussions. This year’s directors include: Nicole La, BLF Oakland; Wendy Goodman, BLF South Bay; and Cindy Bustamante and me, Julia Oseland, co-directors for BLF Walnut Creek.

Members who once felt displaced and didn’t have a place to share their challenges openly with their professional peers are now able to do so through the Business Leaders Forum.

This is what BLF members say about their experience…

“BLF members generously share ideas and advice, from managing teams to tackling big picture issues at our individual firms. I’ve found this forum immensely valuable, and would encourage other senior leaders to consider participating in such a group at their local chapter.”
Tiffany C. Rayhbuck, Marketing Manager, Verde Design, Inc., SB BLF

“BLF has been a great avenue to meet marketing professionals in the A/E/C space in the South Bay. While I'm new to this industry, I have more than 25 years in marketing, primarily in tech, and even though there's no real variation in marketing fundamentals, the need and the approach are different. Overall, I've enjoyed extending my network, sharing ideas and experiences, and having a resource bank to which I can turn and offer assistance when needed.”
Kate Blocker, Director, Marketing, Blach Construction, SB BLF

BLF provides me with a group of seasoned marketing professionals that I can bring up issues and ideas with and get their feedback. This is incredibly valuable to me and I couldn’t get this kind of support anywhere else. I have been a part of this group for years and can’t imagine not having this learning opportunity and support group of incredibly talented women and men in my professional circle. Why did I join BLF? I found myself as a Senior Marketer without a strong peer network. I was excited to find the BLF through the recommendation of a member of the group. The BLF provides me with wonderful learning opportunities as well as a forum for sharing issues and ideas. We support and challenge each other as friends and colleagues. I feel personally connected to every member of this group.”
Sharon Taplin, Marketing - Manager, BPM, WC BLF

BLF is an amazing peer group. Previous to BLF, senior marketing and BD directors could only access high level and experienced mentorship from each other through a one-on-one lunch or a phone call. As the co-chair and participant of the East Bay (Walnut Creek) BLF, what I have witnessed over the years is that each group forms a very close bond, even with a slight change in the group from year to year. Information that is shared and discussed is confidential; the high degree of trust and diverse experiences with professional peers in a small group setting is simply not available anywhere else.”
Cindy Bustamante, LPAS cbustamante@lpas.com

Julia Oseland, CPSM, ACC, is a long-time SFBAC member. After 20 years in the A/E/C industry, Julia is now using her business acumen and workplace knowledge and serves as a Leadership Coach, Workshop Facilitator, and Trainer. Julia works with executives and managers who want to improve their professional performance and resolve internal conflicts. She also assists teams in identifying and implementing process improvements and provides communications training. As an International Coaching Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM), Julia combines her years of professional leadership experience with her curvy path of life experience and genuine love of helping people to facilitate her clients’ goals. For more information on Julia and her services, visitwww.juliaoseland.com

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