Paul Whitcraft, MTI’s Executive Director (ED) since October 2016, retired at the end of March. MTI recognized his years of service at a ceremony during the MTI Global Solutions Symposium 2022 reception on March 1, in Orlando, Florida. Whitcraft has been involved with MTI for more than 30 years in multiple roles, including Designated Representative for member company Rolled Alloys and Chair of the MTI Board of Directors (BOD).
“My involvement with MTI for so many years assisted my career in the specialty metals industry so I was motivated to give back what I could to advance MTI,” Whitcraft recalls. “I was fortunate to have Maria Jose Oestergaard as the Chair when I began as the Executive Director. Maria Jose established regular meetings to facilitate clear communications between me and the Board Chair and Vice Chair. Under her leadership the Board identified goals and a strategy to achieve those goals. MTI Staff was able to use those goals as a guide to develop programs and procedures to make them a reality.”
Whitcraft has been instrumental in the continued progress of MTI with 63 projects completed and a number of innovations introduced while in the ED role. Most notably, he supported and helped establish the MTI Global Solutions Symposium, webinars, the Chair’s Leadership and Distinguished Service Awards, a Designated Professional participant program (invitation only), and a five-year financial plan to manage memberships and projects.
According to Oestergaard (Topsoe), MTI BOD Chair 2016-2019, Whitcraft demonstrated extraordinary organizational experience to strengthen MTI operations.
“One of his first priorities was to ensure the financial sustainability of our organization and was the driver for exploring multiple alternatives that not only added value but also would contribute to additional revenue,” she remembers.
David Barber, BOD Chair, echoes Oestergaard’s comments. He says he is particularly appreciative of Whitcraft’s dedication and attention to detail as Executive Director.
“Paul’s diligent work on financials reduced administrative costs ending eight consecutive years of losses, and the three percent annual dues increase also ended under his reign,” Barber remarks. “MTI is financially sound now, even while offering dues discounts during the pandemic, which I think is an outstanding accomplishment.”
The challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic presented significant complications for MTI; however, Whitcraft led the organization with composure and acted quickly to determine a plan to hold meetings, keep members engaged and continue project work.
“Not surprisingly, I believe that dealing with the pandemic was the single most concerning factor during my five-plus years,” Whitcraft observes. “I think my greatest contribution was probably in coordinating staff efforts and navigating between finding the ideal replacement for face-to-face meetings and what was possible or practical.”
He credits the staff, particularly in St. Louis, for the swift adjustment to operating virtually, including the implementation of meeting platforms — another innovation along with the virtual technical showcases.
“We learned on the fly. I, and many of the MTI Staff, participated in each and every virtual TAC (Technical Advisory Council) meeting or roundtable that was convened in an attempt to maintain contact with our members,” he explains. “We also worked with the Finance Committee to develop a dues discount in response to the financial impact on members. But most importantly, we maintained an emphasis on projects with 14 projects completed over the two-year period and 17 new projects approved over that same time.”
Whitcraft notes that he learned a lot and received advice from a wide range of sources, but it’s important to listen to your instincts and draw on your experience. As for the future of MTI, he offers some thoughts:
“I believe that for MTI to remain successful we must balance maintaining the atmosphere and collegiality unique to our organization with the need to attract new members and finance larger, more complex projects while the business community is changing rapidly. If you’re staying the same, you’re falling behind.”
As Whitcraft leaves it in the capable hands of MTI veteran Heather Allain he has one final comment.
“I will miss seeing the many friends and colleagues all around the world that I have met at MTI meetings,” he closes, while also noting one task he’s quite happy to be relieved of: “I will not miss trying to adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Next up for Whitcraft is retirement with plans to frequent the beach in New Jersey where he lives, play golf, go cycling and possibly get back into a past hobby of tennis, which he clarifies he’ll have to fit in between requests to child sit his six grandchildren.
Best wishes from MTI and thank you for your dedication, Paul!
Originally published in MTI CONNECT 2022, Issue 1