Jo Sidebottom - British Mensa Board Election 2011

1. How long have you been a member of Mensa and have you held any official posts during that time (ie meeting organiser, LocSec or other)?

I joined Mensa in 1987, though I wasn’t active to begin with.  I started attending events regularly in the late 90s and I have been a LocSec for seven years, and SIGSec for four years.  During that time I have organised a wide variety of local meetings, both social and more business-focused, and have helped to organise regional events including a regional weekend.

2. What specific skills or relevant experience from your personal career would you bring to the British Mensa Board if elected?

I am organised and methodical, and used to working in teams and committees. As a project manager, I am used to agreeing what needs to be done, and developing and implementing action plans.  I believe I also have strong communication skills, both oral and written.

3. What do you think has been your greatest achievement in your personal life?

I think my masters degree; not because of the intellectual effort involved, but because I did it alongside a full-time job (during a particularly busy period), whilst running a home, coping with the final illness and death of my father, supporting my mother, and acting as executor.  I am proud of my tenacity in successfully completing it and achieving a distinction.

4. What do you think is the single most important issue facing Mensa in the next five years and how would you deal with that issue?

Falling membership is a perennial issue but one that needs tackling in order to maintain membership services.  We need to analyse membership statistics to understand where exactly the issue lies (too many leavers?  Too few people taking the test?  People who are successful in the test not going on to join?)  We need to identify the exact causes, and put in appropriate solutions, which will be different depending on the cause.

5. Do you have any other specific proposals you believe would improve Mensa?

I would like to see more membership involvement in decision-making.  This may not have happened in the past as historically it would certainly have added time and bureaucracy to the process.  However, with electronic communications and tools such as online surveys, conference and video-calling, it is possible to solicit a range of opinions much more quickly and thus strengthen Board decisions based on members’ wishes.

I would also like to see more provision for junior members.  Their needs may be somewhat different, and the Gifted and Talented programme is undoubtedly an asset, but I believe we should do more to understand and cater for their social needs by appointing some junior officers under the mentorship of appropriate adult officers.  That way Mensa would be able to provide what junior Mensans really want, and junior Mensans would gain valuable development by taking on responsibility with support and guidance.

6. What do you like best about Mensa – and what one thing would you change about Mensa?

Most of all I like the people.  Once I joined Mensa it felt like coming home; much as I love my other friends, there is nowhere else that offers the same combination of open-mindedness, breadth of opinion, quirkiness, and sometimes downright eccentricity, as Mensa.

I would like to see more participation. I love to see new or unfamiliar faces coming along to meetings and mixing with established members; these are some of the most satisfying meetings.

7. Describe your personality?

I am logical, organised and level-headed.  I enjoy teamwork, though I am not afraid to disagree if I feel strongly about things.  However, I also enjoy having fun with friends and have a well-developed sense of humour.