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Senior executives pay it forward through networking

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Rod Wallace (left) and Lisa DiGate (right) attend a recent meeting of the networking group. Photo courtesy GPSEG

Jody Trinsey

Jody Trinsey

By Michael J. Mika
Special to Delaware Business Times

Networking for life is the mantra for GPSEG, a networking group for senior executives that insists members come ready to share knowledge and experience with others.

Three years ago some Delaware business executives started to attend Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group meetings and last year branched off to a Delaware group led by Jody Trinsey and Susan Chu.

“GPSEG has provided through its members an amazing source for knowledge and experience on just about every topic,” said Trinsey, chairman of the Delaware group. “The members are more than willing to share their expertise, referrals, and strategies with other members who are in need. All you have to do is ask.”

For example, one member needed to know the best way to set up an LLC, and after an e-mail to the group received more than 60 replies that helped him. In turn, he shared the list of tips with other members.

Then there’s the story from one member tasked with finding a keynote speaker for a leadership meeting in San Antonio.  “Within 72 hours I had 25-plus recommendations of very capable speakers, including two from the Texas area to consider,” he recalls.

Bob Jarvis

Bob Jarvis

Bob Jarvis, a senior technology manager with more than 35 years’ experience in e-commerce, financial services and consulting, said when he started attending GPSEG meetings a few years ago, he noticed minimal Delaware participation.

Jarvis, recently elected to the GPSEG board, worked with others to create the GPSEG Delaware Area Networking Group, which averages 50 members per event. “If your No. 1 focus is what can I get out of it rather than what can I give to it, there are better options [than us] out there,” Jarvis said.

GPSEG includes leaders from a diverse range of industries and business backgrounds who offer knowledge, connections, opportunities and resources to each other and to the region’s business leaders. Members mentor, become involved with community service projects and contribute to a scholarship fund named after GPSEG founder Chris Pavlides. They “˜network for life’ through various meetings and events, but key to it all are the relationships members foster.

One member views his participation as a way “to tithe his time and experience” to help others.

Another mentions that he attends to build relationships that will last for decades, rather than build his business with new clients.

Membership falls into three categories: those currently working, in transition or entrepreneurs.

“GPSEG continued to evolve not only helping people who are in transition, but becoming a virtual system of CEOs, professionals and entrepreneurs in the region,” said Sam Waltz, who has worked with the group’s leadership. “I continue to feel a real sense of renewal with GPSEG and meet a few times a week with people in transition.”

The networking group has specific requirements to join.

“Target membership level is C-level, but we have many who never had that title, for example a retired military leader or those who come from nonprofit space,” Jarvis said.

Minimum base salary is $150K private and $100K public, but Jarvis said exceptions have been made considering other qualifications.  “The key to membership is willingness to help others with experience they’ve gained managing large organizations or growing a company.”

Jarvis said the group is working on a strategic plan for 2017 to broaden the group’s membership.

“While GPSEG currently supports increasing diversity through its Women’s Network and the alliances established with some of their subgroups, they continuously explore additional ways to reflect the business community they serve,” Jarvis said. “They engage in proactive outreach to ethnic and minority focused business groups for key events and they support future executive leaders through mentoring programs for young entrepreneurs in partnership with area universities.”

The group’s first major event is open to the business community – Delaware Economic Impact Roundtable planned for Sept. 29 to discuss topics that will enhance the state’s economic picture.

Jarvis hopes conversations that start at the forum can move toward specifics that GSPEG members can help support.   He said they would like to sponsor other community events in 2017.

GET INVOLVED  For more information about the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executive Group or to register for the Delaware Economic Impact Roundtable event Sept. 29, visit www.gpseg.org

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