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Guest Editor's Point of View

Our mission, if you should choose to accept itů

June, 2014

By Colleen Niese

Once again, I’ve been presented an opportunity by Parking Today Editor John Van Horn that is equal parts harrowing and advantageous. Harrowing, for the obvious reason of taking over an editor’s chair and all that comes with it. Advantageous, because the PT Point of View column provides me a unique opportunity to dive into what Women In Parking (WIP) is, and is not.

One of the more entertaining questions asked when Women In Parking comes into a conversation is, “Are men allowed to join?” Given that the core of our mission is to be inclusionary to advance gender diversity, the answer is a resounding yes. Just ask WIP Leadership Board Member Alan Lazowski of Laz Parking

The other frequent comment is along the lines of “I’d never join a women’s club” – from both genders. For the record, we’re not the equivalent of the “old boys’ club.” There’s no secret girl-handshake, and really, anyone interested in changing the face of this industry from a gender perspective is not only welcomed to join, but encouraged to actively participate.



Networking, Leadership

and Educational Opportunities

Which is a perfect segue to cover off what Women In Parking is: As our mission statement says, the organization is dedicated to promoting the advancement and achievement of professional women by providing networking, leadership and educational opportunities to our members.

Like a lot of mission statements, while it sounds somewhat eloquent, this one actually has some teeth to it.

Since our initial networking event in March 2012 at the Parking Industry Exhibition show, we’ve hosted a dozen such events across the U.S., in Sydney, Australia, and in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where parking professionals have met and – as I witnessed many times – developed business opportunities to the benefit of all parties.

WIP continues to host these gatherings, with the most recent being a successful evening at the 2014 IPI Conference and Expo this month in Dallas, in partnership with Scheidt & Bachmann and Cale., Our next one is scheduled for the NPA Convention & Exposition 2014 in October in Las Vegas.



Networking and

Mentoring Efforts

WIP’s networking efforts grew internationally last year, when we established a strategic partnership with the Parking Association of Australia, enabling members from both countries to connect and share resources. The WIP Leadership Board has continued dialogue with parking professionals in a few other countries that have expressed interest in formalizing similar partnerships.

From an educational perspective, the WIP Mentoring Program, in its second year, continues to bring great value to our mentoring partners. The mentor provides guidance and insight to

her mentee in the areas of professional and personal development.

Feedback from the mentees has been overwhelmingly positive to date; individuals have shared with me and others on the Leadership Board that the insights they have gained from their mentors have played a direct role in improving skills, expertise and an increased level of engagement within the workplace – a benefit gained by both the individuals and their employers.

Members also continue to take advantage of WIP-hosted quarterly webinars to “dial in” and interact with industry professionals, who lead discussions on a range of topics from IT security protocols to marketing and interpersonal relationship building – all presented through the lens of parking.



The Inaugural WIP Conference

This March, WIP hosted its inaugural conference, at which three professional speakers presented on a variety of topics from both the best practices and practical tips perspective to more than 125 attendees.

Keynote speaker Associate Professor Julie Winterich of Guilford College took an in-depth look at current gender-based trends in the workplace; their implications related to hiring decisions and promotional opportunities; and tactics the attendees could put in play when wearing the hat of leader or team player.

Melissa Raczak, a Director with Deloitte Consulting based in Amsterdam, led attendees through a process of identifying authentic leadership competencies and practical ways to ensure a balance with work/life demands.

Yours truly rounded out the day with a session on established principles and best practices to consider when selling to either female or male decision-makers.

‘Change Really Does Start With Awareness’

Women In Parking is about four years young and proud of its accomplishments to date. The 2014/15 WIP Leadership Board recognizes that the organization has completed its first evolutionary turn successfully. For the rest of this year, the overall goal is to identify and set in motion the next strategic plan to bring new benefits and intrinsic value to our members.

In all of this, what this organization has taught me in a very different way is that change really does start with awareness. And what better way to become aware and understand Women In Parking than through one of the parking industry’s premier publications?

Through efforts such as this special issue of Parking Today, WIP will continue to expand and actually change the gender-balance makeup of the parking industry.



Spending nearly twenty years in the parking industry with three national operators, Colleen brings a unique skill set to address clients’ various needs when it comes to strategic planning, human resources and employee development. She has an innate ability to zero in on the necessary solutions to achieve each company’s particular goals, while bringing her

sense of humor and and/or to the table.


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