ISA Interchange

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ISA President's Column: From Interest and Opinion to Involvement and Ownership

Taking the Next Step in Your Commitment to ISA

The International Society of Automation (ISA) President Eric Cosman will be featured on the ISA Interchange blog monthly with a column directed toward ISA members around the world. Eric’s column will speak to current membership priorities, challenges, news, and perspectives. We invite ISA Interchange readers to engage and dialogue with Eric, and if you aren’t currently a member of ISA, visit to learn more about membership.

Fellow Society members;

We are now more than halfway through 2020, which has beenand will likely continue to beone of the more interesting and challenging years that we have faced in recent memory. As we face the challenges in our personal and business lives, we all should try to learn from our experiences and ask ourselves how this may change our plans for the future. This could be as simple as a decision to make working from home semi-permanent to finally pulling the trigger on a long-considered career change.

This need to learn, reflect, and adjust also applies to our Society. We are dealing with immediate difficulties and uncertainty forced upon us by current events, but we are also considering and planning what more fundamental changes may be required for us to be successful. As difficult as our current circumstances may be, we must do our best to position ISA well for the long term. Your Executive Board and other leaders remain committed to communicating with you whenever and however we can to make sure that you are fully informed and that we address your questions.

As I am sure that you are aware, increasing membership and active participation have long been key elements of our vision for the long-term success of ISA. If we are to make meaningful progress toward our mission to “advance technical competence by connecting the automation community,” there are many steps that we must take. These include reaching out to automation professionals of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds to retain and attract members; promoting our society with employers; and engaging with other organizations on matters of common interest. At the same time, we must adapt our governance and operating procedures to meet changing member needs and expectations, and to allow us to act quickly in changing situations.

Much of this has been captured in the Society’s strategic plan, which I described briefly in my January message. The Executive Board and other Society leaders remain committed to this plan, even in the face of our current challenges. We have working groups addressing each of the plan’s key elements:

  • Industry Reach and Awareness
  • Member Development and Engagement
  • Technical Education and Certification
  • Leadership and Business Skill Development

In the second half of the year, we will take a critical look at the plan to see if any changes may be required. The high-level objectives are unlikely to change, but some adjustments may be made to more detailed goals and tactics.

I want to stress that, while the Executive Board is accountable for our strategy, other leaders and society members are welcomeeven encouragedto contribute to its execution. If you have an interest or passion in one or more of these areas, please raise your hand and we will put you in touch with the appropriate people. This is our strategy, and we all have a stake in its success.

In my June message, I stressed that our society is a community, and said, “You don’t have to have a formal leadership role to contribute and help us to move forward.” I suggested that the easiest and simplest way to contribute is to vote in our elections.

As you read this, our 2020 election is over. I can say that the number of votes casts was higher than in most recent years. Nonetheless, it is still a relatively small fraction of our total membership. I encourage those who did not vote to reflect on their reasons and resolve to do so next year. To all of our members, we welcome your interest, experience, perspectives, and expertise. Our future leaders are among you. Help us to take ISA forward!

I close with my wish that you and your family and friends are safe, well, and happy. Remember your friends and colleagues in the ISA community. Stay in touch and support each other.

As always, you can contact me at with your thoughts or questions on this or any other topic. Stay safe and well, and I look forward to continuing this dialog throughout 2020.

Eric C. Cosman

2020 President


About the Author

Eric C. Cosman is a chemical engineer with more than 35 years of experience in the process industries. He is the founder and principal consultant at OIT Concepts, LLC. Eric contributes to—and has held leadership positions in—various standards committees and industry focus groups. He is a member of Control Magazine’s Process Automation Hall of Fame as well as an ISA Life Fellow. Eric has served as ISA’s vice president of standards and practices, and he is a member of the ISA Executive Board. He was a founding member of a chemical sector cybersecurity program team focused on industrial control systems cybersecurity, and he was also one of the authors of the chemical sector cybersecurity strategy for the U.S. Eric is a founding member of the ISA99 Committee on Industrial Automation and Control Systems (IACS) Security, where he currently serves as the co-chair, in addition to serving as the co-chair of the MESA Cybersecurity working group. Eric speaks and writes on topics ranging from automation cybersecurity to systems architecture development and industrial transformation, and he is the author of the cybersecurity chapter of the ISA Guide to the Automation Body of Knowledge (3rd edition). 

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