February 25, 2013
Like many people in the association management industry, Kellen Company employees have enthusiastically answered the question, “And what do you do?” only to receive a blank stare and a polite “Huh?!” Although association management employs tens of thousands of people, most of the world doesn’t know about the thriving industry. Many of us didn’t even know about it when we started our careers. In this ongoing series, we’ll share how our employees discovered this career path and why they’ve stuck around.
How do you explain your job at cocktail parties?
I usually say that Kellen is a consultancy company which works for and with trade associations. I then go into a bit more detail on the type of services we offer which basically covers the main bulk of association related activities ranging from purely administrative support to more specialized services such as public affairs and strategic advice. Often I add an example of an association I am working on to make it more tangible.
What did your 12 year old self think you were going to be when you grew up? Are you doing anything related to that dream job now?
My professional aspirations at the age of 12 were not exactly a reliable benchmark for my future career path. Almost every three weeks I had another dream job, very often inspired by the TV series or movies I was watching at that time.
How did you end up in the industry?
I responded to a job ad of what was in 2003 still Ernst & Young Association Management. At that time, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what association management actually was. The reason why I applied was mainly based on the content of the job which focused on EU public affairs with a particular focus on environmental issues.
What’s your favorite part about working in association management?
The variety of work is the typical answer in this industry. For me, however, I value even more the direct contacts with the high-level industry people representing their companies in the association. Although the interaction with the board, often consisting of CEO level people, can be very challenging, it is also very rewarding to get their trust and recognition.
What do you think the association management industry will look like in ten years?
I believe that two trends which we already see now in Brussels, will become even more predominantly present in the coming years.
First of all, the competition will become harsher especially from one-man firms who have highly specialized and technical skills, often gathered in an industry sector where they have been made redundant.
Secondly, a shift from what the overall purpose of an association should be. Shifting from a platform used to focus on the regulatory threats for an industry towards a body which is used to promote the entire industry in a more pro-active way.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always stay true to yourself. To be applied both on a professional level and in daily life.
About Hans Craen
Within Kellen Europe, Hans Craen is a Manager and is specialized in EU affairs mainly focusing on environmental, construction and energy policies. With 10 years of experience, Hans manages various client accounts and is also involved in strategic advice projects.
Hans is currently Secretary-General of EPBA – the European Portable Battery Association – and of EWFA – the European Window Film Association. He is also advising a Belgian association on compliance with the national legislation on the take back of electrical and electronic waste.
When not working, a lot of dedication goes into running (one marathon a year) and cooking.