Brown Bag With Upper Management

We started an event at work last November. Every other month, we've had one of our Senior Management team speak at what we call a Brown Bag event. Any employee can come and eat their lunch while listening to (and, hopefully, participating in) a conversation with a bigwig. We don't buy the lunch to keep out the riffraff who just want a free meal. ;)

We're averaging nearly 30 employees at each session. There's a core group that comes to all of them and then we get some add ons depending on the speaker.

Career tip - if your big boss is speaking, you should be there.

The first one was with our VP of Sales and Marketing. No one really knew what to expect and the start lulled so I then asked him to talk about our implementation of The 4 Disciplines of Execution to get the conversation going. He eventually gave quite the business lesson including explaining what a cash cow was.

The second event featured our VP of Finance. We learned a lesson from the first event and published a specific topic ahead of time so people knew what to expect. His topic focused on opportunities within the company and what characteristics Senior Management was looking for in a person when promoting employees. That conversation moved on to some of the systems we use as well as a discussion of the value of a college education.

Next up was our CFO. I gave him the topic of networking (personal, not technology). The guy is the tops at that. He actually has a file system with his main contacts that includes picture post cards of those contacts from throughout the year that he then includes in his holiday cards to them. He's really a master of the art and people got in to that discussion.

Today's event was led by our VP of Regulation and Research. Seriously, that doesn't sound like an interesting job at all and we often joke about how no one wants to know what she's doing. However, she started as an Art teacher and somehow worked her way into that position and people were intrigued with her story. She focused on career development strategies and brought visual aids and made us take a test. You can take a teacher out of the classroom but...

Her career advisement points were also applicable to general life lessons. We ended up with a great group conversation during the session. It was wonderful to hear people share stories about themselves and their challenges and also share a few stories about some others in the room. I sincerely felt emotionally closer to those that were there and I'm really not that empathetic. It was fantastic to see the openness displayed.

I'm so looking forward to the next sessions. It's been a great opportunity for employees to get to "know" our Senior Management team on a personal basis and, hopefully, be inspired by their openness and support of communication with our employees.

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