This post is authored by Brian Curtis, president of ISA 2018.
It is hard to believe that we are fast approaching the fourth quarter of 2018, and our Annual Leadership Conference and Council of Society Delegate meeting will be held next month in Montreal (12-15 October). This has been a very dynamic year for ISA. We have been busy finalizing the strategic initiatives and executive leadership that will guide the Society’s future.
On the financial front, ISA has been working toward a balanced budget for a number of years. This year, we are striving to break even or perform even a bit better than that. The opportunity to balance the budget has derived from our top line growth and our continued efforts toward balancing efficiency with effectiveness.
Below, I’ve taken the opportunity to highlight some significant Society news, and other matters and activities of importance.
An experienced new executive at the helm
Earlier this month ISA announced the appointment of automation industry veteran Mary Ramsey as its new Executive Director. Mary, who has been serving as ISA’s Interim Executive Director since January of this year, has more than 25 years of industrial automation experience. She specializes in leadership, change management, and strategy development/execution. Previously, she was the Senior Vice President of Process Automation, Americas Region, at Schneider Electric, where she was responsible for a $550 million profit/loss statement and 1,200 employees.
Mary is a dynamic, experienced leader with a deep understanding of automation and the industries we represent. She has proven her ability to think strategically and helped ISA align its priorities during her tenure as Interim Executive Director.
The volunteer leadership challenge
Volunteer organizations are challenged to attract leaders and ISA is no exception. In our recent elections half of our open Society leadership positions attracted only one candidate. Fortunately, we had great candidates. But we need more to step forward to offer their time and talent in leadership positions. The leadership challenge, of course, incorporates many aspects, including search, nomination, succession planning, mentoring, diversity and inclusion, and training. Our Board, at our recent strategic planning meeting, examined our current processes and considered several opportunities for improvements.
Broadening our global presence
We must continue to think internationally and broaden our presence outside of North America. Doing so will require a better understanding of global markets, cultures, expectations, challenges, and opportunities. We can strengthen our standing as an international association while protecting our brand and intellectual property.
The Globalization Focus Task Force (GFTF), under the direction of Chair Eric Cosman, has been evaluating how our current governance and operational models apply to and provide support and services to members outside of North America. This report will be reviewed shortly by the Executive Board and we will put a plan in place to implement those recommendations in line with our strategic planning process. You may have heard the phrases that apply to this effort: "Think Globally and Execute Locally" and "The Devil is in the Details."
A culture of continuous improvement
We have fine-tuned our strategic planning process by: partnering Executive Board “Goal Champions” with key staff leads; developing the proper metrics; and producing dashboards that enable volunteer leaders to improve their performance and identify opportunities for improvement. Have no doubt, there will be some bumps and twists along this path, but we are creating a continuous improvement culture that sets a framework for sustainable Society growth and relevance.
Developing tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce
Among automation companies and manufacturers, a primary concern is workforce development—accessing the next generation of young workers who have the competencies and know-how to drive future growth and competitiveness. ISA members need to make their employers and managers more aware of ISA’s extensive automation and control training capabilities.
ISA provides customized needs assessments in order to deliver targeted training solutions and ongoing knowledge verification and testing. By helping to initiate or pave the way for these type of opportunities within your companies, you can “help us help you” and your employer.
ISA’s section-sponsored training events, such as those in the area of cybersecurity, can improve member engagement and benefit sections financially. Each section should appoint a training coordinator who can work with ISA headquarters to develop a section-based training program along with ways to promote it. Section members receive high-value technical content they can immediately apply in their jobs and sections are rewarded through ISA’s revenue sharing incentive program. Contact ISA training for more information.
Also remember that ISA training can be accessed online or in traditional classroom settings at one of the Society’s ten training locations in North America and through our European office located in the Netherlands.
Two exciting upcoming ISA events
As you all likely well know, ISA supports technical divisions that conduct annual symposiums, which furnish leading, market-specific content and outstanding networking opportunities. ISA @ Montreal 2018 (15-17 October 2018), is a new multi-dimensional automation track experience sponsored jointly by the ISA Food and Pharmaceuticals, Automatic Controls and Robotics, Construction and Design, and Process Measurement and Control divisions.
The ISA PCS 2018 Process Industry Event (formerly known as the Process Control & Safety Symposium and Exhibition) returns to Houston, Texas USA 29 October – 1 November. The event will bring together an array of automation industry professionals from various disciplines to present on best practices, emerging technologies, developments, and applications. Don't miss this opportunity to share and gain new and innovative ideas for the future of automation. For more information on registration, program/speakers, as well as vendor exhibit-sponsorship opportunities, visit the event website.
The success of ISA events is due to the many contributions of end users, division and local leaders, ISA staff, and our automation supplier sponsors. I encourage all ISA members and their employers to support the ISA technical event that best targets the needs and expectations of your customers and partners. Get involved in developing a conference program, workshop or activity; better yet, consider presenting a paper at one of these events.
ISA’s upcoming Annual Leadership Conference in Montreal is the ideal venue to recognize the Society’s volunteer and industry leaders. It is a fascinating experience to meet the honorees who have done so much for our industry and profession. You contribute so much of your own time and talent to develop high-value ISA content, including standards and best practices. You help develop our training and certification programs, first-class technical events, and the many ISA offerings that so many automation professionals across the world depend on. Thank you for all you do for ISA and our great profession.
Remember the ISA Vision: Create a better world through automation
And the ISA Mission: Advance technical competence by connecting the automation community to achieve operational excellence.
About the Author
Brian Curtis, I. Eng., LCGI, is the Operations Manager for Veolia Energy Ireland, providing services to Novartis Ringaskiddy Ltd. in Cork, Ireland. He has more than 35 years of experience in petrochemical, biotech, and bulk pharmaceutical industries, specializing in design, construction management, and commissioning of electrical, instrumentation, and automation control systems. He has managed complex engineering projects in Ireland, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. A long-time ISA member, Curtis has served on the ISA Executive Board since 2013, the Geographic Assembly Board (2012 – 2015), and the Finance Committee (2013 – 2017.) He was Ireland Section President and Vice President of District 12, which includes Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Curtis has also been active on several Society task forces, including Cybersecurity, Governance, and Globalization-related committees. He received the ISA Distinguished Society Service Award in 2010. He is the Former President of Cobh & Harbor Chamber of Commerce (2013-2015) and Former Chairman of the Ireland Southern Region Chambers (2015-2016) and is an active member of the Ireland National Standards Body, ETCI.
A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.