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Amanda Cho has come a long way from spending her formative years in a small upstate New York farming town. She brings a whole lot of relevant experience and refreshing optimism to her new role as the director of membership at WorldatWork. Her belief in the essential purpose of professional associations — and the fundamental difference between customers and members — is inspiring.
Q: What did you do prior to joining WorldatWork?
A: I spent the last 10-and-a-half years at the Conference Board, which is also a membership association. They focus not just on human capital, but on corporate governance, economics — they have a huge economics portal — and I was in a variety of different roles there. I worked as an account manager with our peer counsel programs. I also worked in sales enablement and understanding how to grow membership. And then I finally worked in a role that was directly engaging with our corporate members. Typically, they were heads of HR and their teams, or maybe heads of legal and their teams. Prior to that, I was in the education industry, working with kids running a tutoring center. That was also membership-based. I managed a center and the staff. I worked there for a few years and then decided I wanted to work in a more corporate setting, so that’s what led me to the Conference Board.
Q: How did all of that prior experience bring you to WorldatWork? How do you hope to use that experience to help WorldatWork grow?
A: I came to WorldatWork and to Arizona partly because of personal reasons. My husband and I had spent some time in Arizona about 10 years ago and we really fell in love with the area. We wanted to move our family, our two young boys, to a place where they could spend a lot more time outside, which they didn’t get a lot of living on the East Coast. I started looking at opportunities and I happened to see this opportunity [at WorldatWork]. I knew of the organization through my time at the Conference Board and felt really strongly that it was such a perfect fit, aligned with my experience [at the Conference Board]. I had gotten to a point in my career where I felt like I was on autopilot. I knew I could be contributing more and I felt like this was a perfect chance to not just make a physical move, but also make a move and take my career to the next step. I’m really excited to be here and I already have so many ideas swirling about how we can evolve the value proposition of membership as well as leverage the power of the network to create a much stronger community experience.
Q: You have a lot of experience dealing with the membership side of the business. How are members different than customers?
A: That’s a great question. I think with customers, it’s a one-off transaction. It’s one-and-done. They’re important, of course, customer experience, customer base. I think what distinguishes a member is that there is an element of community, loyalty and continuous relationship building, sort of a journey that a member has when they are part of an organization that really sets them apart from a customer. They actually engage with us in a give-and-take, it’s a two-way partnership/relationship, and we take their feedback into consideration as we develop and define the future of TR.
Q: What role do membership associations play in advancing the state of the profession?
A: A huge one! Associations and the role that they need to play is really the North Star for the profession. If they’re in total rewards or compensation, and they have questions, or they’re grappling with an issue or a challenge, or they’re trying to put together a strategy, they need to think of the association as their North Star. They come back repeatedly for guidance, insight and direction on where to take their strategy internally.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
A: I would love to take WorldatWork to the next level, as it pertains to membership. I think we have a huge opportunity to redefine what total rewards means and how we are engaging with people that are working in this profession, but not just historically engaging with certain aspects of the profession, such as comp or benefits. I think TR touches every single employee whether or not they are in HR, so we have an opportunity right now to make sure that we are being that North Star for people that are in different stages of their career. And I am really excited to be able to hopefully redefine and perhaps reimagine how we are going to be able to use our membership to build that level of engagement and help people be more innovative, be more on top of critical issues that they need to know about and move the entire profession forward.
Q: What is something about you that people don’t really know?
A: I love to read, I’m really into post-apocalyptic fiction. I also love fantasy, so I’m a big Harry Potter fan. I was an avid Buffy the Vampire Slayer lover in my earlier days. And Angel. (Laughs) I grew up in a really small town in upstate New York, a farming town. I grew up with cows in the backyard. That’s something that people might not expect.
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