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February News Update from David Jerome, President & CEO of The El Paso Chamber
February News Update from David Jerome, President & CEO of The El Paso Chamber

Greetings,

It has been an exciting start to 2022 and as I shared last month, the Chamber is endeavoring to set ambitious and important benchmarks for ourselves and for the business community in El Paso. Despite the turmoil on the global stage, innovation continues to be an important part of our path forward this year, both as we execute our strategy and as we look for new horizons to explore. We will touch on these current events later in the newsletter. I believe that innovation needs to be a part of the fabric of leadership, and I am pleased that we have included this as a theme for Leadership El Paso and I am especially pleased we will hear some world class speakers at this March’s TEDx El Paso discuss innovation in the context of the theme, “A City Reimagined.” I want to discuss innovation and TED but let me start with an observation about leadership and innovation.

The Harvard Business Review has showcased countless articles on innovation and leadership. A quick Google search will lead you to the top MBA programs in the world, all touting education focused on inculcating innovation as part of their leadership curriculum. And we have, as an organization, made innovation a centerpiece of our work these last three years. I believe that agility in the business sphere requires an ongoing understanding of the dynamics of innovation and a desire to experiment boldly. Katherine Graham-Leviss, founder and president of XBInsight, a talent assessment company, wrote in the Harvard Business Review that risk management should be centered around innovations in business operations, understanding that strategic planning can be used to mitigate a negative result. According to Graham-Leviss, a new initiative can be centered around a minimum of eight ideas or approaches to operations; she explains you should, “benchmark best practices for each and identify five opportunities that can be implemented immediately within the organization.” Now this is one approach, and I am not suggesting that it fits all needs, but innovation needs to undergird and drive bold leadership. What starts in an idea can literally change the ecology of businesses.

Ideas drive our support of TEDx El Paso and this year’s theme, “A City Reimagined” is tremendously fitting and timely. As many of you know, we made the painful decision to move TED a little bit later after last year’s surge in COVID. That decision overlaps with the reality we have lived for months and months now. Our city has adjusted, adapted, and has been a model of resilience for many communities. And while we will not spend all of TED talking about the pandemic, it is so important to think about how cities, ours especially, transform and are reimagined in the coming months and years. I am pleased that we will hear from City Manager Tommy Gonzalez on the idea of transformation, El Paso Electric’s CEO Kelly Tomblin on the dynamic of the workplace, Jason Ketchum on sustainability through energy innovation, along with other powerful local and national voices. I am a huge advocate of TED because it allows for great conversations on weighty matters and I hope you will come down to the El Paso Museum of Art on March 5, 2022, to be part of the conversation: TEDxElPaso.com. Our trends analysis has highlighted powerful trajectories in this community that are in lock step with global trends, and I know that we can both build launch pads for the next century right now and draw inspiration from many around us that are clamoring to be part of the discussion. I am pleased by how our board and members are using innovation as part of their operations. I hope the Chamber can continue to both lead and coach in this space and welcome all your insights and especially your participation.

David