RHB in Nashville: Reflections on an Extraordinary Week of Growth
My colleague Ken Anselment has an incredible podcast you might be familiar with. At the conclusion of each episode with leaders in the enrollment management space, Ken likes to wrap up with a “rapid descent” where each guest has a number of questions quickly thrown at them related to all sorts of topics from current favorite song through bucket list items. It offers a unique insight into the people behind the amazing work happening on their campuses.
As I sit in the airport in Minneapolis—a thousand miles in the opposite direction of Maryland—on my way home from a[n extraordinarily hot] week in Nashville, I’m channeling Ken in a different kind of rapid descent as I work my way through reflections on the last 120 hours in Tennessee. I thought it made sense to recap my experiences with the RHB team.
If you emailed us June 13-15, you were likely hit with an out of office message that mentioned “Crew Advance.” At RHB, we don’t like to say staff retreat. We’re not running back from anything; everything we do pushes us forward. We advance. And that week was no different. Whether it was a TamTalk (if you’re not familiar, here’s an example), our keynote, or the amazing meals we shared as a cohesive, physically present team, the entire experience was incredible.
In the past, TamTalks were topics related to whatever someone wanted to share information on. We’ve learned about everything from PMP and psilocybin through Gros Michel bananas and beginning a business. This year the focus shifted to using our five minutes to share about a particularly important or interesting project we wanted the greater team to know about. RHB has added so many wonderful colleagues in the last year and this activity helped us all to focus on how our work is interrelated and crosses all of our practices, even when we don’t realize it.
So we discussed implementations, organizational assessments and communication plans. We talked about project management, personas, portals and the wonderful people with whom we’re engaged on a daily basis. We split our talks over the three days, but the conversations they sparked throughout the week and what I know will continue in the future have already proven valuable beyond what any of our team had expected.
On June 14, our keynote took the form of a conversation with Andrea Blackman, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the City of Nashville moderated by our very own Dr. Aimee Hosemann. The introduction was led by our co-founder Rick Bailey with a heartfelt expression of the importance of ensuring that our team reflects our clients and the world and RHB’s commitment on that front. The conversation brought front and center important themes of equity and diversity in the workplace and, while we all know how important these elements are to a productive and empathetic team, highlighted the increased need to push forward harder than we ever have before. We left moved and motivated.
As a largely remote team, Crew Advance was an opportunity for nearly one-third of the company to meet the rest of us in person for the very first time. The care of RHB came through in every single opportunity. Our meals, our activities (including the very cool Hatch Show Print), our intentional conversations with every other person on the team. Crew Advance was a reminder of the culture at RHB. And while I feel this on a daily basis, it always feels like a dream to get to experience all of that energy in person. It’s palpable.
We timed (and placed) Crew Advance to match up with one of our other massive events of the year, Technolutions’ Slate Summit. In years past, Technolutions has led Base Camp, an intensive training that takes place the day before the official conference. This year, RHB took on that responsibility and delivered an unparalleled experience to the Slate community. With a sold-out event, RHB offered 135 individuals representing over 80 institutions our expertise in mastering configurable joins, portals and reports. But the RHB Way is to understand that as powerful as Slate is, Slate is the platform. And so, we offered a specific track in our Academy that focused on the strategy that informs those builds. VP for Enrollment Management, Ken Anselment, and Dr. Amanda Sale, Senior Consultant for Enrollment Management, paired up with experts in our Slate practice to inform and advance the top minds driving enrollment, student success and advancement forward at your institutions.
What an incredible event. We can’t wait to see where this goes next as the first organization outside of Technolutions to offer an experience like this.
Enough said. Nearly 300 of you showed up to say hi and hang out (we’ll keep the capacity of the space a secret if you do). As I walked around the room, I was reminded how much I love in-person events, how much I love working with all of our clients and how much I love being a part of this community. Institutions consult RHB because of our expertise. We’re not for everyone and everyone isn’t for us. That’s the art of relationship building. But seeing so many of our clients in a single space was invigorating and made my heart beat triple-time.
By the time Thursday rolled around, I’ll be honest, even as the ultra-extrovert that I consider myself to be, I was exhausted. But Slate Summit was just getting started. Our Slate and Related Technology and Enrollment Management practice colleagues fanned out across the conference to continue to share our knowledge. Megan Miller teamed up with a number of our clients in a panel focused on successful graduate implementations (have you heard about how we manage deadlines?). Ken and Amanda closed down Summit with one of the last sessions, geared at leveraging Slate as a tool for success throughout the enrollment funnel. I think the topics of both of those sessions really speak to our approach at RHB. We could have presented on our beautiful portals (literally, they’re stunning) or an incredibly cool thing we’ve innovated. Instead, we opted to focus on people, team composition and strategy. That’s what you get with us. And that’s something of which I’m incredibly proud.
We packed up our things, headed to the airport, and like many of you, were hit with some pretty wild travel delays. Except me. My flights were on time and afterward I sat soaking in the afterglow of a glorious week as the sun set (sorry, not sorry).
It’s not often that we have a week as jam-packed as this one was with events that involve our entire team. But I love them. They’re tiring, sure. But they’re also fantastic reminders that we’re surrounded by incredible colleagues with innovative ideas that drive our clients—and us—forward.