Friday, February 12, 2010

Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce's Rob Wonderling makes higher education a key element of the Chamber's expansion

On Feb. 4, I was honored, on behalf of the College, to host Rob Wonderling, President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, on his first visit to Peirce. After exchanging stories about how we arrived in our current roles, the conversation quickly turned to business. It became readily apparent minutes into our discussion that higher education is a key element of Rob's vision to expand the Chamber.

It was encouraging to hear that he clearly understands the importance of institutions like Peirce in the workforce development that leads to regional job growth. His agenda has already led to his endorsement of more funding at the state level for colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Rob and I also spoke about how Peirce can become more engaged with the Chamber in the future. Knowing my goal to expand Peirce's visibility in the business community, he invited me to join a small networking group he periodically convenes at the group's next dinner in March.

The most intriguing aspect of our meeting, however, was a proposal Rob made to connect Peirce students (and possibly alumni) to the resources and networking capabilities that can be derived from Chamber membership. The Chamber, of course, could also potentially begin offering individual memberships and grow its base.

This is significant, as the concept could provide Peirce College, our students, and alumni with many advantages, including better opportunities for student career placement and advancement; and marketing of the College's programs to Chamber members.

We agreed to the next step of getting a team of Peirce and Chamber representatives together to explore the feasibility of implementing the concept as a pilot by this coming summer.

Rob also took a tour of our facilities, and was impressed with the creative architecture and state-of-the-art classrooms. Aware that we are hosting a Marketing Roundtable for the Chamber in March, he shared that he was thinking of additional usage of Peirce's facilities for Chamber programming. As an expression of appreciation for his interest in Peirce, I offered him the opportunity to use the space for internal staff meetings or retreats.

As we shook hands to end the visit, it was apparent that we've begun a new relationship with the Chamber and through Rob -- one that has significant potential to advance both of our organizations. I invited him to our Spring Reception on May 17 and he marked it on his calendar. I'm hopeful we will have another opportunity to meet and discuss collaboration, higher education, and the Philadelphia region in the near future.