As we move deeper into 2021, I find myself at the half-way point of my time as LES president. At the outset of my term last October, I set out a new strategy for the society, one that centered on six priority goals for the year. Today, I’d like to take a moment to give a mid-term report on where we stand on addressing those goals, as well as share a glimpse of what’s to come.

First, a note on the LES organization. Upon sharing the strategic goals for the year, my first step was to reconfigure our committee structure to better align with our priorities, breakdown silos, inspire energy and cross-pollinate ideas. We are fortunate to have a talented and dedicated team of volunteers at the helm of LES, and maximizing the value of each members’ contribution was a central goal in this reorganization. The result was two committee categories: Governance Committees and Strategy Committees. Under the strategy umbrella, we consolidated the prior structure into three committees: Content, Membership and Communications. The prior committees, such as meetings, surveys, and public policy, became subcommittees of these three.

Each of the new Strategy Committees has a crucial role to play in progressing our priority goals, and I’m proud to report that working together, we’ve already made great advancements in all six areas. Let me share our work to date:

Goal: Pivot to a new Multi-Channel Content Strategy: We’ve made enormous strides in developing a multichannel content strategy and library organized by content themes that directly address member needs and interests. Over the past six months, we have amassed a strong pipeline of ideas that we are now working to formalize and develop into new, engaging offerings for our members, including education courses, webinars, events, and curated online resources. Stay tuned over the next six months as we roll out some of these new, exciting programs.

Goal: Launch an Online Community: I’m pleased to share that we are on track to launch an online networking community platform early this summer. The platform was piloted by our standards committee and will feature discussion groups according to sector, professional field, affinity groups and key topics of interest for our members. The goal is to foster a more collaborative member community and drive engagement across the society.

Goal: Develop a Partnership Strategy: Knowing that many of our members are involved in multiple societies, the leadership team saw a great opportunity to partner with other groups to both expand membership and learn from external sources. LES has historical relationships with groups like AUTM and CLP that we can leverage to this end, and we are also exploring opportunities with other adjacent societies with overlapping interests. For example, we are currently working with the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) on a series of webinars in May and June. We look forward to sharing additional collaborative content in the months to come!

Goal: Re-Evaluate Membership Structure: Since its inception, the LES member structure has always been focused on individuals. While this continues to be an effective approach, we have also begun experimenting with offering group registrations, an option that was met with enthusiasm at the 2020 Annual Meeting and has helped expand our reach and exposure to new groups and perspectives. We’ve launched a pilot program of organizational sustaining members with a select group of companies, and we are optimistic that this strategy will prove beneficial to both the society and our members.

Goal: Revamp Communications: Historically, LES has leaned on in-person events, newsletters and emails to drive member communication. In the digital era, and in the wake of COVID-19, this system was overdue for a revamp. I’m thrilled to share that at the midpoint of my term we have already made huge strides in modernizing our communications program and making better use of social media. Follow LES on LinkedIn for updates, and learn more about our new communication strategy in our blog post on the topic.

While we are actively paring down email and newsletter communication, I am also pleased to share the development of The Pulse, our new, substantive LES newsletter that curates and prioritizes content to help members find what is most relevant to them. Sign up for all LES mailings here. Additionally, I want to be sure all are aware that our umbrella organization, LES International, is transitioning its quarterly journal, Les Nouvelles, to a half-digital model, in which the March and September issues will be completely online. If you are having any trouble receiving it, please contact [email protected] to get added to the distribution list.

Goal: Embed Culture of Fiscal Prudence: Delivering value to our members has always been of critical importance, and demonstrating a culture of fiscal prudence is a crucial part of that goal. Now more than ever, it’s important to show value and quality and ensure we spend membership fees wisely on items, activities and events that will contribute directly to our members’ benefit. We have instilled this idea at all levels, throughout our Board activities, our management and support functions, event planning and beyond. I’m happy to report that this approach has received universal support across the leadership team, and we intend to continue on this course.

In summary, at this half-way point in my presidential term, I am extremely pleased for the society and proud of the leadership teams. We have made substantial progress on all six of our main priorities for the year, and we are looking forward to an eventful and no doubt successful second half of the year.

If you have an idea for an LES program or topic theme, we’d love to hear from you. Please reach out at [email protected]

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About the Author

Gillian Fenton, President and Chair, LES

Gillian M. Fenton, Esq., CLP has been a member of LES (USA & Canada) since 1992. She has served in a variety of roles, including as member of the LES Insights Editorial Board and later Chair of the Editorial Board; as a volunteer mentor for the LES Foundation International Business Plan Competition, and as Director for Communications and Publications. Gillian is presently President and Chair of the Board of LES.

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