In It For Everyone

By By Myke Folger June 18, 2010

© Hayley Young Photography

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Seattle Magazine.


A close-knit group: the entire staff of the Washington
Technology Industry Association. Seated, left to right: Jamie Broe, Cara Stagg,
Jessica Cookson, Joanne Zarkades. Standing, left to right: David Kosciuk, Lewis
McMurran, Katie Douglas, Sherry Zins, CEO Susan Sigl, Drew Erickson, Summer
McGrady. Not shown: former CEO Ken Myer.

By its very nature, a nonprofits reason for being is to
look out for someone else. Its not a place you go to get rich or sell the most
widgets. It is a place to go to provide help. And more often than not, the
resulting culture is a harmonious one.

More than anything else that he set out to accomplish in his
three years as CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association, Ken Myer
wanted to bring inclusiveness to WTIA itself and to the more than 1,100
technology sector companies it supports.

That means being sure WTIA makes all employees (except those
on commission) eligible for a full-year bonus based on their contributions to
the overall success of the organization. It also means making sure all employees
go through a career development discussion session with their manager as part
of their performance plan. Also, costs for books, association membership and
most of the expense of profession-enhancing courses are covered by WTIA. The
organization offers a lot of employee autonomy, which is warmly received, too.

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I very much enjoy working at the WTIA, one employee
writes. The management empowers us to own our piece of the overall business,
and we are trusted with the budget and decision-making authority to run after
our goals as we see fit.

Along with that coveted autonomy, says Myer, the WTIA is an
organization that runs best when people are forthright and candid with their
ideas and concerns. He says that on top of weekly staff meetings and one-on-ones,
WTIA encourages every employee to speak candidly about needed improvements to
the organizationeven when it comes to challenges with peers or managers.

That kind of inclusiveness branched out to member companies,
too. For too long, Myer felt the WTIA, which was formerly known as the
Washington Software Alliance, represented only software makers, when the state
was bubbling with technology companies of all kinds. So for the past three
years, Myer, who stepped down in April to re-enter the tech industry, worked to
transition WTIA to be more relevant to non-software technology firms, to build
membership and to respond to specific business needs. Large companies, he said
at the time, might be more interested in getting help lobbying for sweeping
changes to state legislation, while smaller companies see the WTIA as a
networking tool, a way to sell products to other members.

In our organization, we give larger
companies closer, more intimate service, and smaller companies, we seek to
serve in a more efficient way, he says.

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