#NCLGBA19 Recap Series: Checking the Boxes for a Successful Conference

Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring reflections on the 2019 Winter Conference. If you would like to share your experience, please email admin@nclgba.org.

Our third #NCLGBA19 Conference Recap comes from Rusty Mau, Winter 2019 Conference Scholarship Recipient and Budget Analyst, Buncombe County

Consider the last conference you attended (other than the NCLGBA winter conference).  After the conference, you probably received a survey that asked, “Would you recommend this conference to a colleague?”  The answer is not always “strongly agree”.  When I think about the NCLGBA winter conference, I “strongly agree” that every budget professional in North Carolina should attend!

The conference started on a high note, with NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver sharing why planning is critical in the 21st Century.  He discussed the “clash of values” between the 20th and 21st centuries and encouraged us to consider the importance of density in our communities.  The family unit of yesterday is not the family unit of tomorrow, Silver shared, as an estimated 25 million single family homes will be on the market by 2030 with no buyer.  How will a public trend towards density align with the powerful forces of NIMBYism?  What are the tax implications of density?  These questions came to my mind as Silver helped us peek into the future.

Throughout the conference, I came back to the question of “why?”  In The Value Beyond Strategy and Data, Mary Vigue with the City of Raleigh said Raleigh’s goal with innovation and performance management is to empower people to ask why.  In Jeff Richardson’s session on High Performance Leadership, we learned you must understand why managers, boards, and colleagues are motivated and successful in order to be successful yourself.  In the screening of All the Queen’s Horses, we saw what can happen when we don’t ask “why” when something doesn’t add up.  For local government to continue to improve, all employees must be empowered to both ask why and understand why.  This mutual understanding of why transcends innovation, routine operations, and even ethical behavior.

Before I “strongly agree” to recommend a conference, I must be able to check two boxes: solid content and ample time for valuable networking (plus, of course, good food).  While I thoroughly enjoyed the content, the networking opportunities were the highlight of our time.  In Buncombe County, for example, we are drafting a new grants policy.  I was able to ask several jurisdictions about their practices and provide a firm foundation for our first draft.  The conference also included opportunities for speed coaching, budget-focused networking, and informal conversation.  I am no “master networker”, but I truly appreciated the opportunity to learn from other attendees.  The diversity of expertise among attendees made the conference impactful.

When I reflect on the NCLGBA winter conference, I think about my motivation to attend.  First, I wanted to learn more about budgeting in North Carolina.  Second, I wanted to gain valuable insights that I could use in my work.  Third, I wanted to build connections that will help us build an even better budget.  All of these have been accomplished and more.

So, when I ask “why” I attended the conference, I realize my conference experience was a success.  I strongly encourage other budget professionals to reflect on why you attended and consider attending a future NCLGBA conference.  As I mentioned above, I “strongly agree” all of my colleagues attend!