Marketwise Helps Leaders Face Challenges Together

A networking group launched seven years ago by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry in partnership with CIRAS continues to help its members learn from people who do the same work they do.

MarketWise provides marketing and sales leaders opportunities to expand their skills through

Ralph Bright, Vice President of Marketing at Interpower Corporation

education, shared experiences, and best practices with their peers. Ralph Bright, vice president of marketing at Interpower Corporation, is one of several dedicated members who believe regularly attendance at the group’s meetings makes him more effective at his job.

“This group helps keep me on the cutting edge of marketing technology,” said Bright, who joined five years ago. “But the biggest benefit is the ability to confidentially bounce ideas off each other – get a different perspective on a problem I’m facing. None of us are as smart as all of us.”

Steve Vaught, president of Organizational Architects in Des Moines, has facilitated the group since its inception. Daylong meetings are held six times a year, and are supported by a $600 annual fee from the members’ employers. The day starts with an interactive presentation from an outside subject matter expert on a group-selected topic. After lunch, Vaught facilitates discussions on member-presented issues/challenges. Others are encouraged to ask questions and use their experience to suggest possible ways that member could handle the issue.

“There is great power in learning, sharing a meal, and helping your peers with issues you may have encountered, or probably will encounter. Trusted relationships are created that extend far beyond the six meetings per year.” Vaught explains.

CIRAS project manager CJ Osborn, who has co-facilitated MarketWise over the last four years, said peer networks like this provide great professional development, which, in turn, can underwrite revenue growth.

“The way Steve structures the agenda provides members with new insights from outside speakers but also fosters sharing across the group on very practical issues,” Osborn said. “We work to find talented speakers to cover high-level marketing issues that have been suggested and prioritized by our members. It’s like customized training every other month presented within a very familiar peer network. We’re all looking to be better in our jobs which can, in turn, support business growth”

The 2022 session begins in February.

For more information, contact CJ Osborn at or 641-840-0505.