Executive of the Week: Suzanne Kelley

    Suzanne Kelley, president, Waukesha County Business Alliance
    Company address: 2717 N. Grandview Blvd., Ste. 300, Waukesha
    Website: www.waukesha.org
    Industry: Business Association
    Number of employees: 9
    Family: Husband John; daughter Melissa, 19, son Michael, 17.

    What was the smartest thing your organization did in the past year?
    “Invest in great people and move into a larger space to accommodate growth and better serve our members.”

    What’s new at your organization?
    “We are trying new things to accelerate member engagement. We launched a monthly program called Alliance 101 – a one-hour workshop that provides essential information on how to get involved. Also, next month we will kick off a regular e-newsletter featuring important issue updates, member news, upcoming events, and business tips. Finally, we have a variety of new advertising and sponsorship packages that provide enhanced promotional opportunities for our members.”

    Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your organization in the next year?
    “Yes, possibly in membership development and/or advocacy.”

    What will be your organization’s main challenges in the next year?
    “Expanding our business/education partnerships and advocating on public policy issues that impact our members. We’ve reached over 700 high school students with our Schools2Skills™ manufacturing tours and laid the foundation for even more engagement through the Dream !t. Do !t. Wisconsin website. But we know these efforts need to be accelerated and expanded. The skills gap is real, and both businesses and schools want to be part of the solution. But they don’t always know how to work together. We can help with that.”

    What’s the hottest trend in your industry?
    “Many chambers of commerce focusing more on workforce development because they’re hearing from their members about how difficult it is to find new employees with basic ’employability’ skills like showing up for work on time every day.”

    Do you have a business mantra?
    “Hire good people, establish high expectations, and then let their talents fly.”

    From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
    “My parents, who started their own business after moving here from Germany. They became very successful small business owners through hard work, innovation and integrity. I couldn’t have asked for better role models.”

    What was the best advice you ever received?
    “Relationships matter.”

    What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
    “My previous employer sent me to a two-week management training seminar in Minneapolis. I went to the opening reception in “business casual” — black slacks and a simple white shirt with black piping. One of my fellow trainees, a guy from Vermont, thought I was a cocktail server and asked me for a drink. That was about 23 years ago, and we’re still married.”

    What do you like to do in your free time?
    “Enjoy the outdoors, read, and spend time with my family.”

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