What’s "Next" for Michelle Bothe
Michelle Bothe of our Property & Casualty IT Services team participated in the Cincy Next leadership program to strengthen her networking and leadership skills. What she also gained were valuable lessons and comradery. Michelle recently shared what she learned and discussed how the experience will help take her career to the "next" level.
What is Cincy Next and how did you get involved?
Cincy Next is an eight-month leadership program offered by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is designed for early career professionals to grow personally and professionally. My former manager recommended me for the program, and I was selected for the 2018 Cincy Next Class Five program.
What types of projects, activities and events were you involved in with the program?
The program consists of a retreat and eight one-day classes. Some of the activities included a DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) assessment, lessons on personal finance, negotiations and public speaking. All of the activities led to building our personal brand, which is a key component of the program.
What lessons did you learn that will help you in your career development?
Learning to be more productive and to practice excellent time management are key elements of the program, which have helped me with my personal effectiveness and development. I now focus my work on important goals first, and I make progress on those each day. I take my goals for the quarter and break them into weekly tasks. I physically write my tasks and personal goals down each week to keep me on track.
With my manager's blessing and support, I also block out four hours each Wednesday morning to focus on my work, with no interruptions of emails or meetings. When it comes to productivity, I keep this quote by Henry David Thoreau in mind: "It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. We must ask; what are we busy about?'"
What did you value most about the program?
My favorite part of the program was participating in the small peer groups. Each month, we met with our accountability group and would discuss our achievements and challenges. Even though everyone in my group had very different jobs and worked in different industries, we were all willing to help each other by providing constructive feedback. We were a sounding board for each other. I know that growing my professional network is something that will help me throughout my career.
What's next for you and your plans for development?
I continue to participate in activities to help me grow my network, practice leadership skills and continue my education. I currently co-lead a young professionals group at Great American called Fuel, and I'm on the Young Professionals Board of the American Cancer Society. I also just completed a Master's in Business Informatics at Northern Kentucky University. I enrolled in the company's Education Reimbursement Program, which paid my tuition toward my degree. This is a wonderful benefit for which I am extremely grateful.
What advice would you give to others who are looking for professional and personal growth?
I highly recommend participating in career development programs, such as Cincy Next and other offerings through the Chamber of Commerce. There are many opportunities out there for leadership development and personal growth. I also recommend the class "Managing Professional Growth" through Great American University. I thought it was one of the best classes I have taken here at Great American.
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