Setting ISA’s Priorities for 2016 and Beyond

This post is authored by Jim Keaveney, president of ISA 2016.

I am really excited and honored to become the President of ISA in 2016. I’ve been an active member of the Society for more than 30 years and have served in numerous leadership positions. I feel confident that my experience and exposure with various operations of ISA have prepared me for this position.January-2016-ISA-president-message-goals-slider

I’m looking forward to working with our Executive Board to build on the progress we’ve made over the last several years. We have a great process in place and we will remain focused on our five strategic goals:  Content, Data, Coolest Delivery, Cybersecurity, and Advocacy.

Without question, ISA has helped me, both professionally and personally. The reason that I first joined ISA was to learn more about process controls and become a more effective automation professional. That investment also has allowed me to develop a network of industry contacts and subject matter experts that can provide technical guidance as well as different perspectives. I also have proactively taken advantage of ISA’s many leadership and training opportunities.

Anyone who has been involved in any professional association knows that successfully leading a group of dedicated volunteers requires a skill set that can also help you be more successful at work. ISA has made me a better automation professional, manager, and leader. Why did you become a member of ISA?

It’s essential that we always encourage our volunteer leaders to bring their perspective and experience to their ISA roles. My background, as you may know, is in sales and marketing, with a decent dose of business planning. I’ve always emphasized the importance of gaining different viewpoints since experience proves that an inclusive approach leads to better business decisions. Ensuring that every leader brings their unique perspective and experience to our discussions can only help create a better ISA.

Building on our strengths

The automation profession continues to make our world a better place. We should all be proud to be a part of the positive change automation has created. ISA plays a pivotal role in this process—helping our members and other automation professionals improve their technical skills and knowledge, and enabling companies to increase throughput, reduce waste, and improve productivity and profitability, both safely and securely.

ISA has an obligation to help industry leaders as well as the public better recognize the value and benefits of automation. Through our work with the Automation Federation, we have defined our profession through the Automation Competency Model (ACM). This has allowed us to work with schools to develop automation and controls curricula to help seed the next generation of professionals.   We need to continue to reach out to and partner with schools, teachers, and educational leaders in preparing young people for STEM-focused career fields.

Priorities for 2016 and beyond

Though we’ve made great strides in our planning process, there is still much work to be done. In 2016, we’ll be keenly focused on alignment, leadership, globalization, and the voice of the customer.

Alignment – We need to take our message to the corporate offices of our members and customers. Industry has made it clear that workforce development, process safety, and cybersecurity are concerns. Who better than ISA to work with companies to help address these critical needs?

Leadership – Volunteer organizations are challenged to attract leaders and ISA is no exception. Did you notice that half of our Society leadership positions in our past election 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 will be examining our current processes and brainstorming on possible improvement opportunities.

Globalization – We must accelerate our focus on what works outside North America, knowing that equivalent does not always mean effective and there may be more than one model for all. Understanding local cultures, challenges, and opportunities, while protecting our brand and intellectual property, will be the basis for us to truly become an international association.

The Voice of the Customer – We need to continually improve our ability to obtain feedback from and communicate with all of our stakeholders—members and local volunteer leaders, partners, and “end user” companies and professionals. It is the only way that we can become better. Please share and e-mail me your thoughts on new content, trends we should monitor, products you want to see ISA offer, or new ways to deliver our services through We also need to ensure that all our stakeholders clearly understand the difference that ISA is making. Please consider being an advocate for ISA within your company.

I left out “having fun along the way.” Though there is much work to be done, we have a great group of leaders and staff partners that are passionate about our profession and ISA. We work hard but we also know how to have fun and enjoy the camaraderie. I encourage you to take a look at all the ways you can contribute, collaborate, and apply your time and expertise. Contact your local section, district, or division to see how you can help. Get involved!

Optimistic about our future

I have never been so optimistic about the future of ISA. I am hoping that each of you will join us and make a difference in both ISA and our profession. Together we can help ISA achieve our vision to set the global standard for automation and enable automation professionals across the world to work collectively for the benefit of all. Please contact me at I look forward to hearing from you and working with you as we move ahead in 2016.

About the Author

Jim KeaveneyJim Keaveney is northeast regional manager and key account director at Emerson Process Management. He brings a strong track record in automation technologies sales and marketing and business planning to his role as Society president. Jim has been an active ISA member for more than 30 years and has served in numerous leadership positions, including Society treasurer, finance committee chair and District 2 vice president. He has received numerous ISA honors, including the Distinguished Society, District 2 Golden Eagle and Lehigh Valley Section Dannenberg Service awards. He also received a Certificate in Instrumentation from the Philadelphia Section of ISA. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Temple University and a master’s degree in business administration from Penn State University.
Connect with Jim:
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A version of this article also has been published in ISA Insights.

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