The IGS’s Secretariat Manager Terry Ann Paulo is at the heart of IGS members’ engagement and helping the society achieve its aims. Here Terry Ann, who is based in Port St Lucie, Florida, USA, shares her journey with the society so far.
Tell us about your role with the IGS.
I have been with the IGS since November 2016. I was hired just days before the GeoAsia6 conference in New Delhi, India. I remember being told, ‘Congratulations, you’ve got the job. Can you go to India next week?’
I am the only full-time employee of the IGS and I report directly to the IGS Officers, specifically to the IGS’s Secretary General Edoardo Zannoni. I provide oversight, management, and administration of the IGS to accomplish its strategic goals and objectives.
How did you come to work for the IGS?
In 2016 I was working as a Legislative Aide for a term-limited State Legislator. As I was searching for my next opportunity, I came across the job advert for the IGS. The opportunity to manage an international non-profit with international travel opportunities immediately piqued my interest.
When I was at University I did internships with the US State Department at the US Embassy in Rome and at the US Mission to the European Union. While working for the IGS, I also managed to finish my Masters in Government and my MBA from Johns Hopkins University. It has been great to be able to put into practice many of the concepts that I learned at business school in my day-to-day management of the IGS.
What have you got out of your role so far?
Working for the IGS has given me the ability to meet diverse people, experience different situations and learn new things while working on different projects. Before joining the IGS, I had no idea what geosynthetics were or what they were used for. Since then, I have enjoyed learning about geosynthetics, helping spread the mission of the IGS and getting to know those who are passionate about the field.
Do you have a typical working week?
No two days are the same! I am the main point of contact for IGS members so my main task is to ensure members are happy with their membership and are able to access and take advantage of their membership benefits. Typical tasks may include responding to general inquiries and cultivating relationships with potential and current members, reconciling the IGS finances, assisting with planning events, and making sure members are informed of what is going on in the society. One of the main benefits of working for the IGS is the chance to jump in and wear many hats at once.
What do you most enjoy about your role?
My role is always changing, always evolving, and I am able to contribute my experience and skills in marketing, social media, public relations, management, strategy and design. Each project presents unique challenges but knowing that the organization is operating efficiently to better advance the mission of the IGS and serve its members is satisfying.
And what are the main challenges?
I love the challenge of coming in every day and trying to figure out how I am going to get more people around the world talking about geosynthetics and landing on the IGS’s website. As a society, I believe that we need to move from talking to ourselves to talking to others in different but relatable industries and fields.
What are the highlights of working for the IGS?
I’m a people person. I’m always happiest – and most satisfied – when I’m interacting with members, making sure I am able to meet their needs and giving them the best possible membership experience.
What are your priorities for 2020?
The global coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on our chapters, with conferences and events either cancelled, postponed or in doubt. The focus for the rest of the year will be to continue to support our members and chapters as we all continue to work under health, safety and financial constraints.
How have you seen the IGS evolve/develop since you joined?
A key development is embracing new technology to become more efficient. For instance, upgrading our invoicing and accounting systems. Members are no longer forced to use PayPal or send in a form to pay their membership by credit card. Instead, members can now click a button on the invoice and it is processed instantly. We’ve also changed the format of the IGS News, and instead of a quarterly PDF format, we’re now continuously updating our website with news and a collection of stories is distributed by email monthly.
Speaking of the website, we are currently developing an updated digital library that we hope will be more user friendly and easily accessible for members. Lastly, we’ve also increased our online presence through the use of social media.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
Getting out and enjoying the Florida sunshine with my husband Brandon and our dog Cooper! We typically spend our weekends boating, fishing, and hanging out on the sandbar or a spoil (manmade) island. It’s a good way for us to refresh and reset before tackling the work week. We love discovering new places. One of my bucket list ambitions is to experience every country on Earth and be a member of the Travelers’ Century Club.
I also enjoy volunteer work and community activities. I am a citizen board member on my county’s Budget Development Committee and also on the Property Value Adjustment Board. I am in the process of investigating adopting a spoil island in the Indian River Lagoon.
How can members contact you?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me at the IGS booth during IGS conferences. I would also encourage members to update their IGS profiles. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter.