Thank you to everyone who participated in some of the 27 cohort receptions yesterday morning and visited the Virtual Connect Café to network and learn about a range of meeting activities. The 2021 NBOA Annual Meeting: An All-Virtual Experience started off with an inspiring keynote address from Duncan Wardle, Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney. From his start as the “cappuccino boy” at the Disney London office to his rise to lead innovation at this iconic company, he taught us all something about taking risks and changing culture.
“Creativity is like a habit,” he said. “It's like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets, but you can learn new habits.” Wardle’s advice about practicing “divergent” and “expansive” thinking, much like children do, can certainly resonate with us. He provided plenty of compelling examples, including some that demonstrably improved the bottom line at Disney.
We took three deep dive sessions today, each of which took a strategic look into the future of how independent school business officers can seize the moments of opportunity that lie ahead.
“Leading With Purpose Through a Pandemic" offered lessons on how one school leveraged the pandemic. Western Reserve Academy Head of School Suzanne Walker Buck and Chief Financial and Operating Officer Tom Arnold taught us that a crisis like this is filled with both challenges and opportunities. They built new community outreach programs, delivered purposeful positive messaging, created scholarships and advocated for legislation to reopen schools. Their thinking not only got them through this pandemic but serves as a model for future challenges.
The second Deep Dive was an opportunity to hear some “futurecasting” from CEOs of the five major associations serving independent schools. NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shield moderated this discussion on “Leading Independent School Innovation,” applying lessons learned from recent crises to grow stronger and create a more sustainable future for school communities.
The third session, “Action Planning for the Future in Uncertain Times,” focused on foresight – the practice of predicting and planning for the future. Two faculty members from Vanderbilt University demonstrated a five-step process starting with how to analyze external forces and ending with specific, actionable recommendations to minimize risk and maximize future opportunities.
The challenges of operating virtually and other important topics were addressed in two sets of concurrent sessions today in six topic tracks: Business Operations, Information Technology, Executive Leadership, Facilities, Human Resources and Risk Management.
In “Building a Remote, Fully Automated Business Office,” Eric M. Norman, MBA, CPA, chief financial officer at Tower Hill School, and Lee Podolsky, President, Breakwater Accounting and Advisory Corp discussed how streamlining business processes in our new working environment can help independent schools find an opportunity to create efficiencies and find time to address strategic issues.
The challenge of interviewing and hiring employees virtually was covered in “Interrupting Implicit Bias in the Virtual Hiring Process,” presented by leading search and strategic consultants from Carney Sandoe, alongside Sara S. Skinner, SPHR, SHRM, SCP, Director of Human Resources, Lakeside School.
The pandemic has changed everyone’s approach to future facility planning. The session, “Shaping Campus Master Plans in a Post-Coronavirus World,” demonstrated how the Ranney School shifted its program goals and resources and developed a comprehensive master plan adapted for the evolving times.
Don’t miss today's general session, “State of NBOA & Leadership Awards,” from 3:00-4:00 p.m., to be led by NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields and NBOA Board Chair Chuck McCullagh. Learn about the future direction of NBOA and hear from several award winners.
We also have two Deep Dives and two rounds of concurrent sessions for you. Be sure to visit the Exhibit Hall! You can speak directly to exhibitors during the “Power Hour” from 2:00-3:00 p.m.
2021 NBOA Annual Meeting: Return on Innovation: Duncan Wardle
2021 NBOA Annual Meeting: People-First Strategy: Cynt Marshall
Announcing the 2021 NBOA Award Recipients
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