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LEADERS: TTC’s John Foss on the future of industry clubs

TORONTO, Ont. – The Toronto Transportation Club this year celebrates its 100th anniversary. Trailcon Leasing’s John Foss is serving as president during this, the club’s milestone year. Editorial director and publisher Lou...


TORONTO, Ont. – The Toronto Transportation Club this year celebrates its 100th anniversary. Trailcon Leasing’s John Foss is serving as president during this, the club’s milestone year. Editorial director and publisher Lou Smyrlis caught up with Foss recently, to talk about how the organization is planning to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the benefits of belonging and the importance of being inclusive.

In the final part of the series John discusses what the next generation is looking for in industry networking opportunities

Q What is the next generation of transportation industry leaders looking for in a transportation club and what is the TTC doing to meet those requests?

Foss: I’m involved with the Ontario Trucking Association’s Next Generation program and we specifically asked young executives what they were looking for. These are people in their late 20s to late 30s and they may have never attended an industry event because of the perception that it’s an old boys club. They may not know anyone and maybe they don’t feel welcomed. I think what they are looking for is an opportunity for someone to break the ice for them so they can become part of industry clubs, just like they see their parents or older executives at their firms do. They are looking for opportunities to network and gain new perspectives. What we need to do, and are doing, is to work on breaking down the barriers, to help them meet new people.

Q. One of the things that stands out with the next generation of transportation executives is that with staffing levels at a lot of companies being tight, work schedules are pretty crazy and they may be hard pressed to find the time to be part of industry clubs or associations. As an industry professional who has walked the same tightrope, what would you say to them about the importance of somehow finding the time to be part of such industry groups?

Foss: Shippers today use many modes. They don’t feel they should be captive to any one mode. Transportation has become multimodal. Being part of an organization such as ours provides the opportunity to meet people from all sectors of the industry and forge critical new relationships or refresh old relationships. I have met so many people through the TTC, which has given me a broader perspective of the transportation industry and helped me in my job and my career. I’ve met decision makers through the Club that I may not otherwise have had the chance to meet, and when you get to know each other on a more personal level, that helps facilitate business.

Q. In an age where a lot of social networking is being pushed online, is the importance of person to person networking underestimated?

Foss: I think you need to have a lot of technical skill to make something like that work for you. How many people in your LinkedIn network do you really know well? There is still great value in meeting people face to face and to have that personal interaction.

Q. Part of effective networking is coming together in an atmosphere that makes them feel comfortable and makes it easy and enjoyable to mingle. How do you actually go about creating such an atmosphere?

Foss: Twice a year we have a new member event. We find that a good way to get people to meet each other. We make a point of our board members, including the Club president, meeting with new Club members and introducing them to other members. We also appreciate that new members have their own connections in the industry and if they enjoy the Club they will recommend it to their connections and that’s one of the ways the Club grows. We also put on events that make it easy to socialize. Remember that while our annual dinner is a very large event, most of our events are under 200 people so it’s easy to work the room.


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