In the Spotlight: Ben Woelk

I had the pleasure of interviewing STC Vice President and Associate Fellow Ben Woelk for this piece. Thanks Ben!

While talking to Ben, I saw one theme emerge: he enjoys a challenge. And that drives him in his work and personal life, from his membership on the STC Board of Directors to his hobby of building model railroads.

With the 2019 elections underway, I’m sure you’re aware that Ben will be succeeding to STC President at the Summit this year. If by chance you haven’t read about his STC work, let me give you some highlights here:

  • Chairs the SIG Task Force and proposes adjustments to the SIG model.
  • Served as STC Scholarship Committee Chair.
  • Served as President of the STC Rochester chapter.
  • Received the STC President’s Award in 2017.
  • Built the STC Rochester’s student mentoring program.
  • Served as guest editor twice for Intercom.
  • Served as Director and Chair of Community Affairs Committee in a previous term (2013-2015).

Ben, however, is humble and doesn’t dwell on the titles or awards he has acquired. Instead, he talked to me about the initiatives and challenges the Board of Directors discuss in their strategic planning for the future of STC. I was very intrigued to discuss how the changing workforce, from baby boomer to millennial, has shifted how the value of membership is measured. According to Ben, STC will always seek to provide meaningful engagement and access to new opportunities, even as what that means changes.

On top of Ben’s work with the STC, he is an adjunct professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He teaches classes ranging from cybersecurity to technical editing. He, however, seemed particularly excited about a new “pop-up class” about introverted leadership, in which the class explores introversion as an asset to leadership. As part of the class, the students will participate in improv, which Ben assures me is always entertaining and beneficial for the students.

Ben also produces a podcast, Hope for the Introvert, which like the pop-up class, explores introversion as an asset. In each episode, Ben talks with a guest about their experiences and thoughts on a theme with a focus on the introverted nature. Ben admits that he was skeptical about producing a podcast, but in his fashion, he was drawn to the challenge!

When asked about what he does to unwind, Ben shared that he likes perennial gardening and building model railroads. After explaining to me what “model railroading” was, he shared how deceptively challenging it could be and how much pleasure he gets from the task.

Thanks Ben for helping us get to know our upcoming STC President a bit better!

By Sara Buchanan