A passion for tourism is what prompted Haliburton Highlands’ former Director of Tourism, Amanda Virtanen, to first toss her name in the ring to serve on the Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization’s (OHTO) board of directors seven years ago. Today, Amanda works with a marketing and public relations industry in a role that she calls “a similar function, different industry” representing clients in various industries.
In spite of her recent shift in direction, her heart is still connected to tourism. Amanda looks back on her years with the board as an ideal opportunity to forge connections and mature her own knowledge and experience relating to tourism.
“I think Ontario’s Highlands is one of the best regions in the world, and the more we can get people here, enjoying and respecting the land, the more our communities will continue to grow,” said Amanda.
Joining the board of directors gave Amanda yet another resource to focus on for building tourism in her own region. What wasn’t expected was the connection she made with the people she served alongside on the board, and the impacts it had in her own professional life – and personal.
“The board was always so great,” said Amanda. “I forged quite a strong relationship with many of them, and often became personal friends, but I also learned a lot from them professionally. They are the best group of professionals I’ve worked with in my career.”
Among the benefits of joining the board for Amanda was that it made her job easier by helping her to find objectives and targets, and measure the performance in her own region. According to Amanda, many of the trends and directions she’s shared with her team have originated from her role with the board.
“A lot of the directions we’ve travelled have come from the conversations we had at the OHTO board table,” said Amanda. “There would be an idea of mine that would be sparked at the board meeting and then carried into my day to day.”
The time commitment for the board is minimal in comparison to the potential benefits, and Amanda explained that she could contribute as little or as much to the conversation at the board level as she chose, but that either way the rewards were plentiful. Her voice was heard and the opportunity to learn was always present.
Professional development aside, Amanda credits the lifelong connections she’s made with board members as one of the best takeaways of her years spent there, but she doesn’t underestimate the value of serving on a governing board, rather than an operational board.
“I learned about governance of organizations and determining objectives, and it ended up being much more valuable than what I had thought it would be.”
Interested in being on OHTO’s Board of Directors?
Share your vision for the future! OHTO’s Board of Directors is looking for energetic, positive and collaborative strategic thinkers to contribute to the growth of tourism in the region by volunteering to serve as a Director of the Board. Opportunities to fill vacancies are available to our members and interested individuals able to commit to a three-year term, are encouraged to click here for more information, or contact OHTO.
Submit your online application here.