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Top Contributor Amanda Zahner, President of ILEA Cincinnati

by Ande Leslie | Mar 10, 2017

Amanda Zahner, Associate Manager, P&G

Can you tell us about your experience as president of ILEA Cincinnati? What has been the biggest struggle? 

Amanda_ZahnerWhen I took over the role of president in the Cincinnati chapter, I was faced with challenges and struggles like many other chapters have experienced. Our membership, which once thrived, was down. We had poor attendance at our monthly events. Our board and programs were held together, at times, by the sheer will and determination of two or three dedicated and committed members of our chapter. I joined the board as a Director-At-Large in the 2015-2016 year during a time of transition. I had the good fortune to attend the Midwest Roadshow in Cleveland in April of 2016 and that changed everything for me. I suddenly understood what ILEA was in other cities and the potential it had in my own. During that meeting, I knew I wanted to be president. I knew I was up for the challenge.

As president, the first struggle was to find new members to sit on our board. Lucky for me, the interest was there and we had several young members who wanted to be involved and had the support of their employers. The next challenge was attendance at monthly events. We worked to tackle that challenge through the use of networking and social media. We now average thirty attendees a meeting – which is a huge improvement over a year ago. While we recognize we still have room to grow, we also are proud of our accomplishments up to this point. Just wait for next year!

I face several challenges as we close out this year and look to next. We have very little documentation for the chapter. It is important to me that when we onboard new members for 2017-2018, we have an intentional, well-thought out program that informs them of expectations, roles and responsibilities, and acts as a guide for their full engagement. The biggest struggle I am currently facing is finding the time to create this manual as a template so that it can be used and updated for years to come. The documentation and process creation will (hopefully) allow for sustainable succession planning and member involvement in the long-term.

What value does ILEA provide to your personal and professional life?

The choice to become president of the Cincinnati chapter has been life-changing for me and is easily the most defining period of professional development in my career. I have been with P&G for over 17 years but ILEA has provided an opportunity for me to grow in ways that I didn’t expect. I am a student and will receive my Master’s in Management and Leadership in April. ILEA has allowed me to put my skills, theories and leadership practices into action. I do not have direct reports in my current role at P&G, so I have used the board to hone my skills in conflict resolution, communication, and team development. Working with others is challenging when you deal with a diverse group of people.  Learning styles, communication styles, and personalities all come into play. ILEA has given me some much needed career experience with learning to work with others in a management-style relationship.

Also, personally, ILEA has given me the gift of friendship. I have never in my adult life felt more a part of something than I have with ILEA. I walked into the Midwest Roadshow alone – I didn’t know a single person – and within thirty seconds of walking to the room I felt welcomed and the connections began … and they continue. I know it seems so juvenile but, as humans, we all seek to belong. Thanks to ILEA I have a huge network of friends that has changed my view of the industry and of networking all together. It has been an amazing experience!!!

What is the biggest challenge or opportunity that the ILEA communities have helped you address?

When you ask, the ILEA community answers. I have found a new DMC in NYC for my team at work, I have connected ILEA members and non-ILEA members with each other to meet a need. The best part of the ILEA community is the vast amount of contacts and experience that lives within it. I didn’t use it before taking on this role but you better believe you are stuck with me now!

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