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Tolling Points

Johnson: Virtual Annual Meeting Enables More Members to Step Up

By: 
Bill Cramer

IBTTA President Samuel Johnson is Interim CEO of the Transportation Corridor Agencies in Orange, County California. In this interview with Tolling Points, he talks about the challenges of an unprecedented year and how they make IBTTA’s Virtual 88th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, beginning this week, a must-attend event.

What makes this year’s annual meeting particularly important for participants in a year when the tolling industry has had to stand TOGETHER through thick and thin?

SJ: This annual meeting is going to be a great opportunity to keep our membership and our industry connected, informed and moving forward. One of the hard aspects of coping with the pandemic is the reduced human contact that’s necessary to keep us all safe. But through this whole experience, IBTTA has continued to highlight its most valuable aspect, and that is our culture of family – the family of colleagues and peers who can share experiences, lessons learned and an encouraging optimism for the future. Participants will get to hear about best practices for operations and financial positioning as well as what leaders in our industry envision going forward. Supporting this has been really uplifting and it will be on full display at the annual meeting.

How will the annual meeting showcase IBTTA’s enduring strength as an organization, and the tremendous resilience of the global tolling industry?

SJ: The tolling industry has always been recognized as an industry of innovation, and our association reflects that. What we’ve done in transitioning to virtual conferences while still increasing our value proposition has really been amazing, and I think the Annual Meeting will put what we’ve already accomplished and experienced on full display. Our ability to continue delivering on that value proposition and our organizational culture, keeping folks connected throughout this pandemic, shows IBTTA’s strength, agility, and the indispensable value we will continue to provide. We have been able to highlight how our industry was focused and nimble in facing the health and economic challenges around the globe. Our members’ commitment to the health and safety of their teams and customers and their ability to show the strength of the industry’s financial model by addressing the economic impacts and still advancing mobility improvements demonstrate that the tolling industry is extremely resilient and well-positioned to face today’s challenges and those that may be in front of us.

How will the virtual annual meeting help agencies and companies build up their own strength and organizational resources to respond to the continuing crisis, and position themselves as a central part of the solution?

SJ: We’re already hearing from our membership that our transition to virtual content is a hit. Our membership loves what we’re doing. Not only is it keeping everyone informed and connected, it’s doing so more frequently and with a broader range and deeper depth of participants. More people are participating at more levels within our member organizations, and that bodes very well for the future, not only of those organizations but of our association.

We all recognize the value of knowledge. So the more information we have, as individuals and as a group, the better our discussions can be in talking about current challenges and future opportunities. Bringing in more people from our membership to participate means that information and knowledge are shared more readily and widely, and it continues to build upon itself. Some staff within our member organizations who might not have been able to travel and attend a conference are gaining knowledge and establishing relationships earlier in their careers and building a better foundation to grow professionally. The virtual annual meeting will continue to provide the forum for both information sharing and networking. This helps participants and their organizations and will also strengthen our industry and our association.

One thing we’re seeing with virtual meetings is the increased engagement by the membership and committees within our industry that may have met two or three times per year at our conferences but can now gather online every month or even more frequently. IBTTA committees and councils such as the Women in Tolling, Young Professionals, Platinum Sponsors, Communications Professionals, the Leadership Academy Alumni Association, Emerging Technologies Committee, our newly formed Task Force on Diversity, Social and Racial Inclusion, our Toll Immersion Program, and others are all connecting more often and more deeply than before, and the virtual formats are making it possible. After the pandemic, we’ll still have the same great conversations when we meet face to face, but I expect we’ll continue using virtual platforms to strengthen the value of the association.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s annual meeting?

SJ: I’m excited about the meeting content, increased level of participation, the shifting makeup of the group, and the great feedback we’ll get for the future. I’m also looking forward to connecting with this wider audience of colleagues and helping build the brighter future we can expect through a higher level of member engagement.

Through these tough times, a lot of folks have stepped up and they’re looking optimistically beyond the pandemic. Right now, everyone is staying home and socially distanced, and you would think the level of interaction would decline. Well, in IBTTA, we’re seeing the opposite—which shows not only what we’re doing today, but what it means for our industry and our society tomorrow. It really feeds my optimism for the future and helps me stay focused on where we’re headed.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

SJ: I’ve been extremely proud to serve as president this year and support IBTTA becoming even better. It’s really been an honor, and I look forward to the leadership we’re going to see in 2021 and 2022 with our First Vice President, Mark Compton, and our Second Vice President, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. The next several years of IBTTA are just going to continue our efforts for excellence.

Pre-conference sessions for IBTTA’s Virtual Annual Meeting and Exhibition begin this Thursday, September 10, and regular programming runs September 14-16. Register NOW, before it’s too late!

Newsletter publish date: 
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 10:00

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