2010 Candidate for Director
Mark Pepera, RSBO
Chief Financial Officer
Westlake City Schools
Cuyahoga County, Ohio
Question and Answer Forum
For the first time in history, we find ourselves working in an environment where four different generations work side by side. As you consider the impact this has on the workforce and specifically the school business profession, what implication does that have for ASBO International and how would you recommend we support these generational differences?
Mark Pepera Answer 1:
ASBO International is an organization that for over 100 years has supported its membership base by providing top-notch professional development to school business professionals. Today, however, it’s members find themselves in unchartered times, many of them experiencing the need to manage, communicate or co-habitat with a unique workforce, one which spans many generations.
Whether you are yourself from the X, Y, baby boomer or mature generation, we should as professionals come to understand the differences and use such knowledge as an asset to our craft rather than a barrier to success. As a top-notch educational organization, ASBO should embrace this unique phenomenon in society as an opportunity and acknowledge as well as develop quality professional development to educate and support members on generational issues. Such development shall include the creation of targeted strategies which allow for members to cope, manage and possess the skills necessary to embrace this reality of change. Specifically, I would suggest ASBO utilize a blog or web-page to allow members to research, learn from the experts or simply dialogue with their colleagues. In addition, it will also be crucial that to the extent possible the organizational leadership within ASBO is over time reflective of such generational differences. While this may not be a simple task, it can be accomplished by intentionally recruiting future leaders containing a cross-section of these attributes. On an affiliate level, ASBO should encourage younger members to become involved, be mentored and infuse their knowledge and talents within their organizations.
Formulating a multi-generation leadership team will certainly help in shaping ASBO’s future, satisfy member’s needs and pave the way for future success.
What role do you believe the school business official should play with regard to the educational leadership team in a district?
Mark Pepera Answer 2:
Spanning the globe, it is evident the school business profession has been elevated over the last several years. In the US and Canada we see members that will soon be credentialed. In other parts of the globe, we see members obtaining certifications and designations that strengthen and heighten the awareness of our collective profession.
Now, more than ever, the educational community as a whole are looking to school business officials to not only be the chief spokesperson on business matters, but to provide inspirational and creative types of leadership as accountability has risen and precious resources have dwindled.
It is crucial that school business officials continue to assert themselves as leaders in the day to day operations of their organizations instead of being a passive participant, known only to others as a backroom clerk or simply a mid-level supervisor. They must make themselves available to all aspects organization stemming from the classroom to the boardroom in order to lead their organizations in the right direction and do the best for the students they serve. They must be effective communicators and be open to new ideas and concepts of others. Too often top leaders in our society do not exhibit the behavior’s they preach. The most important role a school business official can play is one of “do as I do” and not “do as I say”. To that end, school business officials must actually model the behavior they wish to change and as Collins would say, “they need to work on getting the right people on the right bus”.
It is then, and only then that leaders in school business will be recognized for their importance to the educational leadership team of their respective organizations.
In addition to the ever-challenging economic pressures public education faces, what other challenges do you see to the school business profession in the coming years and how do you think ASBO International can support our members relative to these changes?
Mark Pepera Answer 3:
As we look toward the future, I believe the Federal government will be putting more money into education in an effort to further drive reform. While this influx of dollars may help to fund various initiatives or provide stop-gap financing, the subsidy will most likely not come without a price. In that regard, it is crucial that ASBO International be an active participant at the Federal level to shape and influence legislation impacting school business operations. ASBO must make sure that our members have a voice and are being heard. In the near term, it is clear that all of us need an answer to the question, “when will the ARRA funding go away and what will I do next?” With that in mind, it will be critical that ASBO help members in this regard providing education, guidance and suggested benchmarks of excellence. While it is important to understand the underlying Federal reform initiatives, ASBO must first and foremost be responsive to its members and their reality of need.
In addition to the Federal level, ASBO must as an organization create a stronger link between their affiliates in the US and abroad in their advocacy efforts. ASBO must help to eliminate barriers and acknowledge we all exist in a flatter-world so that our collective profession may create valuable learning communities allowing sharing and progress to occur. I truly believe this can become a reality with the technology we already possess and the collegiality of our members.
On a personal level, I am seeing more States favor a change in their pension systems which most of our members enjoy. While one cannot deny the economic realities of such reforms, it will be important for ASBO to educate the powers that be on the negative impact sweeping changes may pose for their own economies, the profession and society in general.
All in all, it is safe to say that ASBO will need to continue with its core mission in supporting all its members while still making significant gains toward its BHAG.