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Arts + Culture Board Service: Develop Your Career and Community

Posted Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Arts + Business Council

Rob Penn is Director of IP Video Product Operations at Comcast and completed our Business on Board program last May.  His path to the Arts + Business Council is an interesting one.

When Rob joined Comcast in 2009, his management recommended he consider joining a board as a way to expand his view on career and community. He tucked it away as an interesting suggestion.

But when Rob pitched a music product idea with a local arts and education angle to a different senior leader, her recommendation surprised him.  She said, “That’s an interesting idea. Why don’t you join a board?”

Rob became a professional entertainer straight out of college.  As a signed vocalist for Warner Brothers’ Tommy Boy Records he and his band, The House Jacks, toured the country for years in the 90’s, sharing the stage with James Brown, Ray Charles, Run DMC, LL Cool J and many other big names.

He jokes that appearing like a “late bloomer” on paper may be the price of admission for having had a music career and that it’s hard to find the right home for “entertainer” on a professional resume.  But Rob says the epiphany of purpose supplied by ABC has tied everything together for him in terms of his career path and given him a sense of purpose and connection he never expected or could have known to seek out.

For Rob, it was finally the right time to pursue this leadership development opportunity. Not only would becoming a board member further his career, it would fulfill his own interest to serve the community. And that’s when he got turned on to the Arts + Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, where he enrolled in our Business On Board program.

Business On Board is an incredibly unique program with a vast impact on the region. Since its inception in 1996, ABC has trained well over 500 business executives and placed them on boards and board committees of more than 150 arts and cultural organizations in the region. Through intensive curriculum, ABC provides information on all the important aspects of being on a board and prepares professionals to know not only what to expect, but how to grow professionally.

The information is invaluable, but what really makes the program special is the matching process.

The value ABC brings was very clear to Rob.  “What I liked about it was that it was consultative. I was asked about my interests and expectations, and was matched successfully with a group that mattered to me,” Rob said about his observation of the LiveConnections board throughout the training. Rob’s entertainment product at Comcast was musical with strong ties to the region and education – hence, LiveConnections was a perfect fit. “What I took away from that process was the importance of the role I would play in an organization. There’s a distinction between joining an organization as a participant and consulting them with the wealth of knowledge ABC provides. It’s invaluable.”

The Business On Board curriculum covers all the important aspects of being on a board but, through the experiential learning of board service, it also fulfills many professionals’ personal desire to be more active within the community through the arts and cultural scene.

“After our five months of training, I transitioned from a two-dimensional view of my career to three-dimensional that expanded beyond the walls of my day job and into my responsibility in the community. I gained a personal sense of fulfillment and a bigger world view.”

Like many companies in our region, Comcast has identified the programs of the Arts + Business Council as excellent opportunities to develop their staff both as professionals and community members. Through programs like Business On BoardCreativeXchange and our businesslegal and technology skills-based volunteer opportunities; our region’s workforce is having meaningful interactions in the creative community while growing their careers.

For additional information about these opportunities, contact Tommy Butler at tbutler@artsandbusinessphila.org or 215.790.3827 or visit www.artsandbusinessphila.org/programs.

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