I have frequently said that the golden thread weaving through my career has been the privilege of working with ‘deep knowledge experts.’ That is often received with polite nods, though little recognition of what I am actually talking about. For many, my CV looks like an eclectic mixture of industries and professions, but yes, it does make sense…
The first ‘deep knowledge experts’ that I knew were my parents, both scientific researchers and academics. They came from different disciplines (botany, taxonomy, microbiology, virology, epidemiology) but found common ground through their ethnobotanical work.
Living to work
As deep knowledge experts, they lived to work – certainly not the other way around - and found genuine joy through their discoveries and sharing that knowledge with colleagues, students and peers around the globe.
What I didn’t appreciate as a teenager was that the global membership communities that they belonged to, and helped lead as volunteers, would also become a world that I would grow to know well and enjoy being a part of.
This ethos of living to work is shared by the authentic deep knowledge experts I have met (to be honest it is part of my own value set too). Their love of learning, adherence to ethics and passion for their profession gets me excited.
For those of us who work in membership organisations, you will understand what I mean. While we may not share the same technical background with our members, it is our own professional expertise that enhances and supports what they do and what their organisations strive to achieve.
As a CEO, interim and consultant I have had the privilege of leading and advising many deep knowledge expert organisations. What has always impressed me about these organisations is their capacity to ‘punch above their weight’. While the team may be relatively small compared to their stakeholders’ firms, the teams still need to have expertise in all core functions – marketing, events, digital, volunteering, data management, events, HR, risk management, finance, governance, policy, facilities management…
The partnership is powerful
It is therefore the partnership between the organisation’s professional and the deep knowledge expert which is powerful. The mutual respect and sense of community enables organisations to move forward, innovate and flourish.
The actuaries, health and safety experts, accountants, climate scientists, town planners, impact investors, forensic scientists (etc.!) that I have worked with have inspired me and welcomed me into their respective worlds. I too have become passionate about what they do. For the periods I have worked with them on strategy, membership, business development and change projects I have been their biggest advocate. I have no doubt that many of you share your members’ passion and enthusiasm and continuously learn about their profession (as well as your own)!
A strong sense of purpose
Where so many are currently seeking purpose in their professional lives, I believe that deep knowledge experts already have that strong sense of purpose. They want to be the best that they can be, make the world better, but can’t do it alone. As fellow professionals working in partnership with them perhaps our unique purpose is to help them by enhancing their reach and amplifying their impact. This has been a great source of satisfaction in my career and no doubt in yours too.
Memoria is a CEO, interim leader and strategy consultant experienced in international business development, transformation and strategy.
Memoria has worked globally for a variety of organisations including not-for-profits, professional services organisations, and global membership bodies. She spent 13 years at the Stanford Research Institute, representing the globally recognised think tank across Europe, South Africa and Eastern Canada, and also has over six years of experience in tech-led and clean tech space. Memoria specialises in delivering strategies that increase engagement and maximise influence.
Memoria champions diversity and inclusion as she firmly believes it enables people to be their best, which in turn drives innovation, creativity and performance.
Connect with Memoria on LinkedIn here.