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Leadership: All voices are welcome

Claudia Dencer

On a recent episode of the Dead Pixels Society podcast, SPOA chairman Claudia Dencer of Leonard’s Photography, discussed how leadership development is vital to business growth. With leadership being a major focus of the SPOA International Conference on School Photography and Yearbooks, Dencer’s comments are all the timelier. Here’s an excerpt:

Question: “So as someone who's grown up in the industry…how important is it as a woman to be leading this first governing year?”

Dencer: “I think it's huge. As the governing board, we can sit at that table, and all reach across the table. We're all in it for the best the betterment of the industry and the future of bringing on that tradition. There's a female voice there as well and we're all bringing something to the table. It's important for us all to hear each other at the table personally.

Question: “What do you think you bring to the table from your perspective as someone who started behind the behind to lens and worked your way up to leading the large-size volume photographer. What perspective does that give you?”

Dencer: “I think that's it right there, the trenches. You can come into any industry or any company and maybe be a good leader and lead it…I've always prided myself in being a part of every single thing. I've been down there in yearbook season, helping one of the bindery machines. Just to be there and to work around the employees that have given so much to us, and work year in and year out to make sure that we get our yearbooks out the door, I love that part.

“I don't ever want to be so far removed that I'm not able to be in touch. That's important in my role at Leonard's but it's also important in my role at SPOA. We all have a voice at that table, and it doesn't mean that the larger company has a bigger voice and a smaller company. That's just not it. We all have a voice at that table, we can all come together for the greater good. And I think that's so important.

“I started at the start in data entry, you know, enter names, and I filed stuff in a filing cabinet. Then I took on the photography and that's not a glamorous job a lot of the time because you're lugging a bunch of equipment around and you have to be on and meet a deadline and get the packages back to the school. But I have that same approach.

“And I think that's the skill I would bring I bring to the chair position here. We have a major task in front of us again to advocate, educate, preserve, protect and promote the great tradition of school photography and yearbooks. We all have one voice and it needs to be equal.

Question: “Who would you say is your leadership model?

Dencer: “My father because he's fair. He's always been fair. He's always been a listener who listened and took in whatever issue problem, idea, thought process, anything that we had to do, and just always then responds in the fairest approach to that. I've always had great respect for that.”

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