Monday, 22 February 2016 11:09

Why WIN? Webinar Explains Why Everyone Should Be a WINner

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On Thursday, February 18, the Women's Industry Network (WIN) hosted "Why WIN? An Introduction to the Women's Industry Network" to explain WIN's mission, how WIN engages women, why the industry needs WIN and how to get involved.

The informative webinar was conducted by Michelle Sullivan and Mary Kunz, co-chairs of WIN's membership committee, who expressed the desire for all participants to learn something new about WIN.

WIN was founded in 2006 by a small group of women who had made significant contributions to collision repair. They began the organization to support and encourage women in all segments of the industry.

Sullivan explained that WIN provides great leadership opportunities through their Board of Directors and various committees, plus their annual educational conference offers plenty of developmental and breakout sessions. WIN also awards scholarships for students and professionals, and recognizes exceptional women in the collision repair industry through their Most Influential Women (MIW) program. WIN is very involved nationally and engages in its targeted campaign through the association's leadership, which is comprised solely of volunteers who donate their time and talents to growing the organization.

There are a variety of ways to get involved with WIN, according to Sullivan. If members want to help advance the organization's strategy and further its direction, they can join one of the following committees: scholarships, industry outreach, membership, communications, sponsorship, strategic planning, governance and conference planning.

Kunz explained, "Most committees have a monthly call, but there are no required time commitments. It's what you can contribute and where your talents best fit. Joining a committee is the best way to engage with this organization and get the most out of your membership."

WIN also offers opportunities on their Board of Directors, and the organization is looking to bring new people and ideas in. The deadline for this year's Board of Directors has been extended through the end of February.

The deadline for scholarship applications has also been extended through the end of the month. WIN offers scholarships for high school students, as well as post-secondary/continuing education students to allow recipients to further their development and help women advance in the industry. Scholarship recipients receive WIN memberships, and some are selected to attend WIN's annual conference where they're given the opportunity to network with women in the collision repair industry. Scholarships recipients are mentored by MIWs and board members. WIN's website also features an employment center for job postings and resumes.

Sullivan noted, "There's a lot of talent in this industry and getting involved with WIN helps industry engagement and improves retention."

Over the past few years, WIN has increased its visibility by attending a lot of national events. This year will be the first time WIN makes an appearance at AASP/NJ's NORTHEAST Conference and Tradeshow.

Kunz said, "WIN is looking to constantly be visible in the industry and really engage women."

WIN's "There's a Place for You" campaign focused on educating women about all the different opportunities in the industry and allowed them to open a dialogue about the various career paths available. As part of its efforts to create a recognizable brand, WIN has created brochures and other marketing materials which are available to members for distribution.

Sullivan and Kunz are proud of WIN's MIW awards which they took over from AkzoNobel in 2013 to honor women who have "enriched the collision repair industry with their vision, leadership and commitment to excellence." Nominations are collected each fall and then reviewed and selected by an independent third party; MIW honorees are acknowledged at the MIW Gala during WIN's annual conference.

"Why does the industry need WIN?" Sullivan asked. "What does the face of your business look like, and how is your organization positioned for growth? Looking at diversity and sustainability, we need an organization like WIN whose mission is to engage women. For years, shops have struggled with a shortage of technicians; our scholarship program sees a number of women entering that segment of the industry."

Sullivan continued, "Join WIN, join committees and encourage others to join. There are still people who don’t know about WIN, but membership is beneficial and provides great networking opportunities. Become a corporate sponsor or donate individually as a Friend of WIN to support our scholarship fund. Even better, attend WIN's annual conference - we're always looking for people to share their experiences!"

Kunz said, "It's a unique experience to be in a room filled with women from this industry. The camaraderie is great. I got hooked at my first conference and have been a member ever since. It's been a wonderful opportunity to grow myself professionally and personally. Attending a WIN conference will serve you well."

When WIN was founded in 2006, the organization had 140 members. Thanks to their membership drive, they ended 2015 with 478 members, the highest number to date, which represents a 29 percent increase over 2014. Going forward, WIN plans to enhance its member profiles in order to focus conference sessions on specific segments of the industry.

Sullivan and Kunz encouraged participants to save the date for WIN's 2016 Educational Conference to be held May 2-4 in Tampa, FL. The theme, Power of the Past and Force of the Future, will include appearances from some of the organization's founders. The conference will begin Monday after lunch, proceed through Tuesday with the MIW Gala in the evening, and conclude Wednesday by noon. This popular format features several keynote speakers for all attendees as well as a few breakout sessions. WIN is finalizing the agenda for the conference and plans to release details in early March, WIN members will receive advance notice and discount pricing.

WIN memberships run from January through December and are available online for $75 annually. Kunz and Sullivan "encourage you to join and to spread the word about WIN."