Interview with judge Wouter Lox
Wouter Lox, Managing Director, EUsalt
Since 2007, Wouter Lox has been Managing Director of EUsalt, the association of European and global crystallised salt producers. He has more than 22 years extensive experience of lobbying and public affairs for several national as well as international associations and companies. Here he discusses how to successfully lead a vital European association.
What are the most important issues currently facing European associations?
Being able to maintain a value proposition towards its membership. The value proposition is an efficient and effective representation of the interest of the sector, either on specific dossiers or in the generic promotion of its position in dossiers. As dossier tend to become multi-sectorial relevant, the added value to maintain a sector association for some sector promotion, whilst the lobby would entail multi-sector approaches might be declining. The industry might want to invest more in these multi-sectoral (in)formal industry/NGO platforms and attribute lesser importance in maintain associations in the current traditional format. This requires a completely different approach to association management as well as leadership. Many associations might not have elaborated upon association 4.0 and hence will not be able to transform into these evolving structures.
Digitalisation needs to be further implemented to be able to make full use of this tool allowing the lobbying strategy to be fully effective and better streamlined to the evolving constitutional and political world.
What advice would you offer associations on how to overcome these issues?
Associations should include in the business plan creation and the evolution to association 2.0 and consider whether certain dossiers would not be better be served by a multi-sectoral platform creation rather than maintaining the traditional association structure.
It is all about rethinking the value proposition and how to assure to deliver a value to the industry lobby and recognizing that membership retention might not be a goal anymore of an association.
What do you feel makes a successful association leader?
Good balance between being an early adopter of new technologies, innovative strategies and being at the same time a conveyer of diverging interests. A leader is not only able to implement strategies, but also an enabler to rethink strategies and set long-term visions.
The association leader needs to be a trustworthy leader that takes next to the short-term actions and also the long-term values into account.
What are you most proud of having achieved at EUsalt?
The evolution from a very internal technical expertise focussed association towards a more pro-active outgoing association using available technical expertise. The implementation of the business plan and rethinking the role of the association was key in this achievement.
As a judge for the 2019 European Association Awards, why do you feel awards schemes such as the awards are valuable for associations?
Award schemes have a double functionality, promoting the sector best practices as well as rewarding the association efforts to apply best practices. In promoting the sectors’ best practices, there is a required platform to exchange these best practices and a learning possibility for others to apply these best practices.
Associations require visibility to enable reputation building. Such awards help both the increase of visibility as well as the reputation building as a professional and trustworthy partner for all peer associations, but also to the network beyond the association world.
EUsalt is the association of European and worldwide crystalized salt producers. Their mission is to be a platform of expertise and shared best practices; to provide clear and reliable information about salt and its applications and to act as the sole salt industry representative towards European and international institutions as well as stakeholders. Although the history stems back to the 1950’s, when the European Centre for the Study of Salt was created and is based in Paris, EUsalt in its current form, namely an association of companies was created in 2004 and moved the headquarters to Brussels. For more information please go to https://eusalt.com/