Sue’s volunteering helps her see the big picture


Throughout the course of my career, I have been fortunate to work for people – managers, CEOs, deans, and presidents – who have recognized that you must act like a leader in order to start thinking like one. (A sort of reverse of the ‘think before you do’ rule.)

These folks have allowed me the opportunity to re-imagine and then re-invent myself in each new position I have taken. And each supported my volunteer activities, recognizing that volunteering helps me find fresh perspectives on how I might do things differently. Specifically, getting to know different kinds of people through volunteering has allowed me to observe them, get to know them, and learn new ways of getting things done. This external perspective volunteering affords also allows me to see how the work I do aligns with higher organizational priorities and, at the same time, continues to teach me how to guide diverse parties toward a shared goal or vision.

It is hard sometimes to get away from ‘production’ – that is, work that has metrics and is core to an individual’s formal ‘role.’ But volunteerism has taught me that being a bridge between and among diverse groups of stakeholders and potential stakeholders is an end in and of itself. Indeed, being a ‘connector of the dots’ does not take time away from my real work – instead, it is at the heart of my work. Seeking ideas and opinions from those in the community I volunteer with and for enable me to find new ideas and solicit feedback to help monitor and obtain support for the work we do at the University; and helps me see the big picture within the community and beyond.

– Sue Bennett, Director, University & Community Relations at University of Guelph

Photo and story courtesy of Chris Tiessen

Posted on November 8, 2016