Once every other month for five years, Donna Bruesewitz has taken a day away from her office and driven somewhere to learn from others who do what she does.
Bruesewitz is one of five original members who still attend regular meetings of MarketWise NE. The northeast Iowa business networking group was founded five years ago by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) in partnership with CIRAS. Bruesewitz first joined the group when she was communications manager at Stellar Industries, and she finds so much value in the meetings that she asked to continue participating when she changed jobs last summer to become marketing director for Milkhouse Candles in Osage.
ABI launched the group—along with others such as LeanWise, the CFO Roundtable, and the Operations Excellence Roundtable—by partnering with CIRAS and numerous other experts across the state. The goal was to help functional managers develop through the sharing of experiences, lessons, and best practices with colleagues just down the road.
“It’s been a great opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other and learn how other people do things in the same situation,” Bruesewitz said. “It’s a great resource—if for no other reason, just to make sure that you’re doing something right.”
Steve Vaught, president of Organizational Architects in Des Moines, has facilitated MarketWise NE since the start. The six-per-year daylong meetings are supported by $600 annually from the members’ employers. Meetings start with an outside educational speaker who presents on a group-selected topic. Lunch follows, then a session with Vaught facilitating discussions on member-presented issues. Others are encouraged to ask clarifying questions and use their experience to suggest possible ways that members could handle the issue.
“You’re meeting with others who have the same issues as you, and you’re going to build relationships with them,” Vaught said. “It’s a place to ask for assistance and discover, ‘Hey, I’m not alone in this. There are others with the same challenges I have.’”
CIRAS account manager Sean Galleger, who has co-facilitated MarketWise NE since the beginning, said peer networks like this help all of the members improve their common game.
“The group as a whole can improve collectively, because everybody’s got such different experiences and different levels of skills,” Galleger said. “Everyone can get better. As a group, we can go tackle problems and issues that people normally wouldn’t take on by themselves.”
> For information about MarketWise membership, contact Joy Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-359-0206.