Lorenzo Alia has just completed one year as president operations for WBFN, while at the same time holding down a full-time job. He was interviewed recently about this experience. Lorenzo and his family relocated to Washington DC in October 2016, and he is currently principal program manager at a DC area firm.
You are the first WBFN President Operations to hold the position while working full-time. How has this experience been for you professionally and personally?
I was honored to become president operations of the WBFN and I was very aware of the great responsibility it meant. I knew that working in this role I could have an impact on the organization and provide significant added value, so I would have never been able to forgive myself if I had wasted this opportunity. My ambition was to maximize my contribution while having a full-time job and a lively 3-years old son.
What considerations went into the decision by the WBFN to facilitate this arrangement?
I think the idea was that I could provide a significant contribution to the organization even without being present in person at the office during working hours. Also, I had a good relationship with the EC members and the President, Loubna Djemame, with whom I had worked very well even before becoming president operations. Of course, I could not have done this job efficiently without this partnership with Loubna, and also working closely with team leaders and staff.
What were the challenges for you?
The first challenge was to balance time and workload between WBFN, my family and my job. This implied basically no time off, but I enjoyed the time spent in all three environments, which is really what made it all possible. The second challenge was to be continuously involved in the WBFN without being at the office. I managed it by checking emails, participating in social media groups, having briefings with the president and staff, attending meetings virtually, and attending any events that happened outside working hours.
What skills did you already have that helped you to manage?
As I mentioned, the challenges were related to time, stakeholders, and resource and communication management, which are critical areas in my field of project management. Experience, as well as the hard and soft skills I already had being a project and program manager really helped me to manage this situation.
What skills did you need to acquire on the way?
This great experience allowed me to learn and grow professionally and personally. I further developed some skills I already had, such as flexibility and proactivity, as well as the ability to work remotely.
What level of support did you need from your spouse?
To act as president operations requires effort and time and it is really important to involve your partner closely when you decide to take this position, because it will definitely have an impact on your family. So, I agreed with my wife that I could keep the position as president operation at WBFN even with a full-time job. This way it was easier to manage the times when I had to work for WBFN late in the night or during the weekends.
What would your advice be to a future WBFN president in a similar situation?
I would advise the candidate to really think about her/his motivation and the level of commitment she or he would be willing to guarantee. Of course, it’s not easy to handle both a presidency position and a full-time job, and in spite of yourself, you will have to face a lot of issues, but if you are truly motivated you can manage.