Having the pleasure to sit down for a few minutes yesterday with Amanda McMaster, SIPA's new managing director, I sensed a great deal of determination, enthusiasm and a can't-wait-to-get-going energy. But she especially lit up when I mentioned two areas—member engagement and... data.
"I love data," she said, pointing to her work coordinating engagement and events for the Donor Relations team of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University—one of the largest donor services in the country. "You get clear answers, and from that can derive strategies. Why guess at things when the data is right in front of you, illuminating how you can provide value to your donors—or in SIPA's case, members."
McMaster comes to SIPA with extensive experience in association management, events and media. She most recently served as senior director, CES Conferences at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) where she led the strategic planning and content curation for CES and CES Asia conference programming. In that position, she worked with Jeff Joseph, president of SIPA's parent organization, SIIA.
What else, besides having worked previously with Joseph, led her to SIPA's door?
"I felt that SIPA provides me with a unique opportunity to wed much of the experience that I've had in the past," McMaster said. "At The Atlantic"—where she held various titles before becoming director of events—"I worked in publishing and felt really at home. So I'm happy to get back to that now." That could be because she was an English and Art History major at William & Mary.
"I helped to launch the flagship events department at The Atlantic," she said, "creating the tools, standards and benchmarks to drive execution of 120 value-added branding events for The Atlantic and National Journal. At Harvard, I worked in donor engagement which meant I was directly involved in the needs of that audience and working to get them engaged on a daily basis."
Said Joseph: "I am so excited to reunite with Amanda and have her join the SIIA family. Amanda brings a unique—and highly relevant—mix of experience in media, events, content curation, strategic planning and partnerships along with an infectious positive, can-do attitude. She will be a great partner for SIPA and all of SIIA."
At CTA where she spent close to 10 years, McMaster stayed involved in event management with strategic collaboration around marketing, content, sales, sponsorships and other aspects that are pivotal to SIPA. Through CES, she managed key partnerships with global brands like Twitter, Turner, Deloitte and Amazon.
But, she says, big companies or small, it's about knowing your audience and creating something interesting and compelling for them—providing takeaways that they can apply to their businesses. "I just loved everything that came with working with our audiences," she said, mentioning the technology industry, subscribers, roundtables and advisory boards. "For me, working with members is where the excitement gets generated."
Her first interaction with the SIPA community will be Nov. 11-13 at the Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) in Hollywood, Fla.
"I hope a lot of SIPA folks come down for BIMS," she said. "I'd love to meet as many members as possible. I'm new to this but I've looked at the BIMS schedule, and the two tracks that the SIPA committee curated"—Onboarding, Engagement and Retention; and New Models of Sales and Marketing—"look amazing. And, of course, I have to put in a plug for the Data Strategy and Monetization track which our committee co-curated. You may see me in a couple of those sessions!
"I'm excited about the SIPA community; I've heard so much about how tightknit and familial they are. I want to know what keeps you up at night and what would make your engagement with us more meaningful. So I will be looking for even more ways to engage you in our great association. One thing is for sure—we are committed to innovating and injecting new energy into SIPA."
Speaking of familial, McMaster is the mother of a son and daughter, Jeb, 9, and Poppy, 7. Seeing their pictures on her phone will come at no charge.