By Anna Koj
When I joined Professional Women International Brussels (PWI Brussels) a few years ago, little did I know just how much it would influence my life. Just another opportunity to network and attend some events, I thought.
Two and a half years later, I am a member of PWI Brussels’ Board as Vice-President responsible for Partnerships. I have organised and lead our Events Team. I have helped put together a number of great events and initiatives, and I have grown … ohh so much!
I consider myself to be a strong, independent woman. I go through life proudly, take up new challenges and openly face what comes my way. Why would volunteering for a women’s organisation bring me any benefit?
Firstly, when women come together, great things happen.
I believe that we, as a society, can achieve more and flourish when we work together, women and men alike. Equality, the right and opportunity to equally contribute to the common project, is something I have been taught early on by my parents, something I have brought along with me to adulthood.
I realise, however, that still many women grow and live convinced that their work and actions are somehow less valuable, that they don’t have the right to take ownership of their own personal and professional life. PWI Brussels has shown me the unique power of women coming together. We shine when working collectively, building on our individual strengths to achieve a common goal. This has been such an incredible empowerment tool for so many women I have met along the way.
Secondly, volunteering lets you grow your professional skills almost seemingly, and it’s so much fun.
Volunteering is a great way of learning by doing, while also having the time to look inside yourself, reflect on what suits you, what doesn’t and finding your own, unique leadership style. It’s not about attending a yet another one-day training course, getting a certificate and pretending you have overnight become an expert. Instead, since it all happens so naturally, these new skills grow on you and you own them without feeling fake and having to fake it, till you make it.
Finally, having safe space really is a thing.
Before and even after joining PWI Brussels, I honestly thought that the whole concept of “safe space” was a just another empty, overused term. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Volunteering for an association that has enough professional structure allows you to push yourself and try new ways of leading a project or a team. It gives you a chance to find out your professional persona, realise where you may be lacking skills and allows space and opportunities to develop them. All this without the constant fear of being judged and possibly fired.
The article has been first published as part of the HQ - The Association Magazine's #84. All digital editions of the magazine can be found on their website, here.