Nearly every seat in the room was full.
I expected a sparse crowd for this breakout session, but apparently grants management credentialing is a hot topic.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
People who manage grants for a living are like referees. They only get noticed if something goes wrong.
Grant managers do the tedious work of ensuring that organizations stay compliant with numerous and constantly changing rules and regulations. Meanwhile program staff get the benefits of using the funds to make an impact in the community.
This credential offers grants manager some positive recognition for their work.
If I had learned anything at the conference it was that the job was going to get even harder. Changes to Federal regulations and rules meant more requirements on grant managers to track and report expenditures and progress.
This session about self-improvement and career advancement seemed like a nice break from the ongoing discussion about policy changes.
Two women gave the presentation. One was an executive in the industry association hosting the conference. The other woman had managed grants for many years and earned the credential herself several years earlier,
The association leader started the session with an overview of the steps and experience required to earn the credential. After ten minutes, she turned the presentation over to her co-presenter.
That’s when the energy in the room shifted.
She stepped out from behind the podium and encouraged the audience to get excited. She asked for energy. She asked for positivity. The crowd responded with applause.
Then she started talking about her personal career journey. This was someone who cared not only for her work, but also for the organizations she represented. And there were multiple organizations. When someone cares that much, other organizations notice.
For the first time at the conference, I felt like I was seeing someone who believed in her personal mission and the impact she had on her community. As I listened to her speak I wondered how someone could be so passionate about grants management.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe her secret wasn’t that her work gave her passion. Maybe she decided to be passionate about her work.