This is the first post in our “Executive Perspectives” series where we talk to association executives about opportunities and challenges the pandemic presented, how they’re creating value for their members and what lies ahead.
In this interview, we sat down with Kerry Crockett, CEO of Insurance Accounting and Systems Association (IASA).
IASA has been serving the community of insurance professionals for nearly 100 years. With 24 chapters and thousands of members and insurance constituents across the country, the association focuses on education, connection and driving industry progress, personal growth and professional outcomes.
For Kerry and the association, like so many others, the past few years have delivered uncertainty, new and exciting opportunities and a reminder that the future requires us to innovate and think differently; we simply cannot rely on what has worked in the past.
Identifying opportunities through the challenges
During the pandemic – beginning in 2020 – Kerry and the IASA team began looking toward the future and got to work on a business plan. They took the opportunity while the world was “shut down” and unsettled to look ahead and set the stage for how they wanted to move the association forward, with a focus on expansion. For the past 93 years, IASA has been the go-to resource for a few specific roles within the insurance industry; as they look to the future, the association is expanding to serve the entire industry and include all roles under its umbrella.
“For us, it requires a solid commitment to intentionality and thoughtfulness to how we’re moving our plan forward. We have to look at that as our North Star, so every decision made tracks back to our vision, values and goals.
For example, we are actively pursuing partnerships with other associations so we can utilize the best of what they have to offer, and bring our near-century’s-worth of experience to their team and members. Collaboration will be at the center of everything we do, as we get laser focused on delivering value consistently to our members.”
Delivering value alongside changing expectations
For IASA, the internal discussion resembles the one taking place within many associations these days: how to retain members as expectations evolve, seemingly daily. At the beginning of the pandemic, IASA saw high attendance and participation numbers at their first-ever all-virtual event, as homebound members were hungry for the connection and education. Over time, however, those numbers have tapered off as people grew tired of doing everything online, and sought in-person, face-to-face interactions. (IASA faced another, non-pandemic related challenge when Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans in 2021, forcing their hybrid meeting to become a virtual one.)
Alongside the challenges, member expectations continue to change, creating urgency for associations to keep up or risk losing their attention (and, of course, revenue).
“My plan is to blow everything up and put it back together, in a much more interactive way. We’re looking to create experiential learning opportunities, engaging and interactive – less didactic – sessions and shorter bursts of content. We want to create buzz so people are excited to come back.
We can no longer rely on what worked in the past. People are changing – the way they consume education, how they spend their time and where/how they spend their money. For us, we need to take that into consideration and find ways to attract them in the future. It’s given us a different mindset, and forces us to be super focused on how people are consuming content – and where they’re looking for experiences.”
Designing a unique experience for each member
For an association like IASA, member demographics vary across the organization. Younger members, for example, might prioritize career growth and connection while more senior members look for best business practices and how to navigate the current landscape. To play the role of trusted resource for all of them, IASA must identify what’s important to each member segment, and design experiences that seek to connect with – and deliver value to – them.
“We are doing work around our value proposition and creating personas for each of our member audiences. With that in hand, we can design education, networking and professional growth opportunities that align to where they are in their lives and careers. Moving ahead, we plan to create events that deliver value to individuals that represent every role across the insurance industry, and in ways they consume content in their everyday lives. We seek to be an irreplaceable partner, where they find value with (at least nearly) every interaction.”
More from “Executive Perspectives”
[Part Two] Beth Hayson, associate executive director of continuing education and meetings & exhibitions at the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS).
[Part Three] with Jennifer Tomb, CAE, CEM, CMP, director of meetings and exhibits at the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).
[Part Four] with Jay Brodsky, former Chief Digital Officer for the American Geophysical Union (AGU)
[Part Five] with Angela Keyser, executive director for the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM)