CLEVELAND—Ask any one of the ACS Rubber Division staff members what makes the organization work and they won’t hesitate to tell you: volunteers.
The Rubber Division, a non-profit entity that serves all facets of the rubber industry, depends on the leadership of its members to help define the needs of the industry and the best ways to accomplish its goals.
Lakisha Miller-Barclay, who will take over as the organization’s new executive director on Jan. 15, led two special sessions during the International Rubber Conference in Cleveland Oct. 8-10. The sessions, titled “Get Involved!,” served as an introduction to the organization and volunteer opportunities open to members. It also emphasized the value of each part of the organization, from the local rubber groups to the Rubber Division chairs.
During the final of the two "Get Involved!" sessions, Miller-Barclay noted that the Rubber Division’s full-time staff is focused on delivering the best professional opportunities to all of its members, but they can’t do that job on their own.
“Our jobs are to facilitate and make sure the programs and things you need are done properly,” Miller-Barclay said, “so we rely very heavily on volunteers, on our board and our committees to feed us the information that we need.”
A panel of experienced leaders within the organization joined Miller-Barclay to describe how they got involved with the Rubber Division and what they have gained from their participation. Among them was Leo Goss, who has served in a number of positions throughout the years at the local and national levels. He also served as the Rubber Division chair in 2016.
“I encourage you (to get involved),” Goss told those attending the meeting. “We are looking for ideas and we are not afraid to listen. When I was chair, my theme was passion. If you see something you are passionate about, by all means, let us know.”
Jerry McCall, who served as Rubber Division chair in 2018, offered to support the organization on the regional level before stepping up to serve at the national level. Initially, he said, he got involved as a way to grow professionally, but found the return for the time and energy he invested was far more than he expected.
“In all honesty, my ambition was self-serving … (And) it worked,” McCall said. “I got my name out there, I got my company name out there and I increased my contact list, so goal achieved. But it was so much more.”
Admittedly, he said, the work you do with the Rubber Division will take time. But the experiences you gain will help you develop leadership and communication skills that allow you to grow personally and professionally.
“It will make you better. It will challenge you. It will put you in a position where you are uncomfortable,” McCall said. “But in my opinion, you are not living if you are not living outside the box.”
Miller-Barclay echoed that piece of advice. Finding roles within the Rubber Division that ask you to step out of your comfort zone are opportunities to turn weaknesses into strengths.
“I challenge you to not pick a committee because it’s the one you are most comfortable with,” Miller-Barclay said. “This is an opportunity for growth for you and your company.”