Career Path

Roberta Kravitz: Award-Winning Executive Director of ISMRM

"Stay humble, be honest, and recognize that we can all support each other’s efforts and do a great deal of business."

international-society-for-magnetic-resonance-in-medicine-roberta-kravitz

Roberta A. Kravitz, Executive Director

International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), Concord, California

Recipient, PCMA 2017 Global Meetings Executive of the Year Award

EDUCATION St. Mary’s College of California, majoring in government.

MY FIRST INDUSTRY JOB

Working as a temporary worker at an annual meeting — I took minutes at committee meetings.

MY PREVIOUS THREE JOBS

ISMRM director of meetings and electronic communications, 2001–2005; ISMRM director of study groups and electronic communications, 1997–2001; ISMRM study group coordinator and executive assistant, 1995–1997.

WHAT I DO NOW

I am the ISMRM executive director, and as such I supervise and manage all staff and independent contractors, defining duties, compensation, and benefits, evaluating performance, and delegating responsibilities. I manage the day-to-day operations, maintain high involvement with all segments of the membership, develop policy and recommendations for budget, services, programs, and operations/administrative functions, facilitate corporate relations, and continually advance the mission and goals of ISMRM. I report to the ISMRM Board of Trustees.

FAVORITE THING ABOUT MY JOB

The ISMRM membership. I am always awed by the membership’s willingness to put in hours of work for no pay, reviewing hundreds of scientific abstracts, dozens of journal manuscripts, serving on extremely active committees, and flying around the world to talk at a two-day educational workshop. This membership breathes commitment to its work, embracing this organization as an integral part of the MR community. And the membership always makes my job challenging and fun!

MOST INFLUENCED IN MY CAREER BY

I am so fortunate to have a wide network of friends and colleagues around the world, and I know that I would not be leading this international organization if it were not for each and every one of them. With that said, there is one person from years ago that saw my enthusiasm, idealism, and work ethic and encouraged me in this industry. Her name was Renee Sauers. She was the director of postgraduate radiology education at the University of California, San Francisco, and on the side she organized meetings.

The first time I met Renee was in Berlin in 1992 at the ISMRM annual meeting, which she organized and where I was hired to help out with the committee meetings. She probably felt sorry for me, because I made the rookie mistake of wearing stilettos on a convention-center floor on day one of a seven-day meeting, but for whatever reason, Renee and I became friends.

Renee passed away years ago, but to this day I still hear stories about Renee from people who did business with her. She was what one would call a “character,” a bit high-maintenance, a bit intimidating, and definitely demanding and tough — but what a big heart she had. She gave me my start, lending me confidence and support, encouraging tenacity and independence, and ultimately helping to champion my full-time employment with this organization. I’ll never forget her, and will forever be grateful for her friendship all those years ago.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL MISTAKE

I wish I could pick just one big professional mistake, but I can’t. I tell my staff all the time that some people make a lot of small mistakes but I am the Queen of the Big Mistakes; however, that happens because I take risks. When  it doesn’t go the way I expect, well,  the importance is in owning it, embracing it, and learning from it — and then don’t make that mistake  again. After a particular big risk I  took that failed a number of years  ago, I wrote our board president that  “I lived, and I learned.” He wrote back the following, which I still keep in front of me: “There are those who can say one or the other, but few who can say both. Good job.”

MY NEXT BIG CAREER GOAL

While continuing my role here at the ISMRM, I would like to focus my outside activities on development in support of those disenfranchised and soon-to-be-disenfranchised in our society. Stay tuned!

MY ADVICE FOR YOUNG MEETING PROFESSIONALS

This is a generous industry, which allows us all to have a lot of fun while we work. Stay humble, be honest, and recognize that we can all support each other’s efforts and do a great deal of business. When I leave this industry, it won’t be with memories of the hotel rooms I have stayed in but of the wonderful people I have met in those hotels. Be mindful of your community. Remember, it takes a village.

 

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso is executive editor of Convene.