What Community Brings to Executives

Community Blog
Written by Clare Ryan

JUNE 2022

Last week I had the pleasure of attending two Evanta Executive Summits in Dallas, and it reminded me all over again how much I love what Evanta offers. I listened firsthand to executive after executive say how much they "needed this day together." 

While kicking off the summit, one CHRO said, "I always look forward to this day because it's the one day a year I get to fill my own cup. I'm always focused on my team and their development, and on this day, I get to be the one learning from others. It's an investment in me."

I’ve written before about the value of community and how important it is in a hybrid world, and today, I want to continue writing about this theme because it's what is nearest and dearest to my heart. 

Here are the top things I hear executives say over and over when discussing the value of getting together with a community of their peers: 

  1. Sharing & Commiserating 

In Dallas this week, I would watch time and again as an executive shared a challenge they were struggling with, and others in the room would knowingly laugh and nod their heads. This is a room of people who deeply understand each other's challenges, even if they haven't ever spoken one to one. 

There is a sense that they are “all in it together,” as Benelux CISO community member Andrea Bergamini says: “Evanta’s community of CISOs has provided meaningful opportunities to compare notes, gain insights and truly collaborate on practical solutions. When it comes to cybersecurity, we are all in it together.”

  1. Continuous Learning & Growth

In my opinion, the reason these executives have made it as far as they have in their careers is because they are lifelong learners. They are interested in being better, in learning new skills and in widening their perspectives. They may be perceived as the ones who have all the answers, but as they all know, learning doesn't happen in a straight line, and there isn't an "end." It's a lifelong journey. 

Kishore Kondragunta, a San Francisco CIO community member, explains lifelong learning well: “Being a part of this community, sharing the pain and gain with fellow tech and business leaders, is very critical and always gives a different perspective and helps promote continuous learning and growth.”

  1. Connecting with Others

As I walked around the Dallas summits for two days, I never found a "quiet" corner. People were buzzing in conversation everywhere I looked and consistently exchanging ideas and having "aha moments." There is nothing more valuable than having a community of peers and mentors to call on, and those who focus on building these relationships (like our Evanta communities) are climbing to the top with a whole community of supporters behind them.

Toronto CISO community member Les Stevens explains how sometimes you need to make time for building these connections: “There is value in the chance to network, which is the easy, tangible answer; the true value is in being pushed to network. Evanta brings the community together, even when we are too busy to think about networking.”

  1. Transparency & Trust

New participants in Evanta communities often ask our teams at the beginning of the day, "Why aren't we recording these sessions?" And inevitably, at the end of the day they make a point to say, "Aw. I get it." We need a "safe space" to be able to open up about our challenges and ideas, and that's something that we foster in every session and meeting. 

Detroit CIO community member David Behen shares this about a trusted environment: “As with any group, networking and having peers that you feel comfortable communicating with is critical to success. Evanta gives you the opportunity to have that community and to grow and develop in a safe but challenging space.” 

This week, I watched as executives would hear an idea and furiously write it down in their notebooks or raise their hands to ask a tactical follow-up question. It’s fulfilling to be back in person and watch the connecting and learning take place.

I feel honored to be in the room with our communities, and I can personally tell you that "my cup has been filled" with the conversations and interactions I had last week. You can apply to join a community here or find your next community gathering here

Clare Ryan headshot

Clare Ryan

VP, Content & Product Strategy at Evanta, a Gartner Company

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