This post is authored by Brian Curtis, president of ISA 2018.

 

ISA offers so many opportunities for industry professionals to engage, as members and as customers of the organization.

The advent of a new year is the ideal time to take a fresh look at all the different ways ISA members can get involved, especially in ISA sections and divisions. As someone who has been highly engaged for many years in my local (Ireland) ISA section, I’m very aware of the personal and professional rewards that come with active ISA membership involvement.

In many ways, ISA provides its members with opportunities to receive—in knowledge, skills, problem solving, leadership development, and friendship—and to give back—through collaboration, mentorship, volunteerism, sponsorship, and student scholarships.

ISA is an organization that’s proud of its past but is firmly focused on the future. In setting the standard for automation and control, we’re determined to constantly raise the bar. Evidence of new Society growth and new opportunities for all of us to learn, participate, and help shape the future of our profession and industry are all around us.

The world of the automation professional is changing daily, affected by evolving and emerging new technologies and solutions that need to be applied in creative new ways. It’s essential that the Society adapts in tangent with this changing environment.

Focus on younger generation

It’s critical that ISA become more relevant and attractive to a younger generation. We need a steady influx of bright new minds in order to grow and meet the challenges of the future. ISA must adjust to the expectations and demands of today’s and tomorrow’s automation professionals. For example, ISA’s roots lie in the process industries, such as oil/gas, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, etc. That’s an important strength, but there are other industry sectors out there that can readily and easily leverage and apply our expertise.

In doing so, we can improve on what industry does and make their services and solutions more valuable to their customers and end users. We have so many strengths and so much knowledge that can be leveraged to benefit the world, to make it a better and safer place. So, why not do it? In the process, we’ll expand our membership base, add new customers, and grow. Building automation is an area that has expressed interest in our cybersecurity standards. By leading with our expertise in cybersecurity, we can explore other ways of providing service and value.

Given that there are so many new opportunities, we have to think a bit differently, modify what we do, and how we do things, and accept change. We’re not going to move away from our core strengths in standards, training, publications, certificate and certification programs, and events, but we need to introduce new business models and delivery formats to meet the demands of an evolving world.

There is much discussion centered on whether ISA is a member-focused organization or a customer-focused organization. I believe we are both. They’re not mutually exclusive. Both members and customers are essential to our operational success.

Benefits of membership

Members are at the heart of ISA. They truly “make” ISA possible. Without the member, we would not possess the intellectual property (IP) that is so valuable to those in the automation profession. It takes committed and passionate members, working within a network of peers, to volunteer and apply their talents and knowledge to assist others.

After all, while we as ISA members enjoy an extensive list of member benefits and advantages, I believe our ultimate goal is not just to serve our fellow Society members—but to serve and advance all “members” of the automation profession.

Customers, on the other hand, want to use what we produce. They recognize the great value it brings to their work; they just don’t feel compelled to be a part of ISA. The simple fact is that a majority of our revenue comes from non-members purchasing our products and services, and we rely on these dollars to help fund important, mission-driven work.

We need to recognize the two very different roles that our members and customers play in our organization, and the value they bring. By focusing on both and balancing their needs and requirements, we can continue to operate a successful business that will make ISA stronger.

As leaders, we need to make decisions based on our future, not what we’ve done in the past. We can’t constrain ourselves to our past behavior and practices. Attracting new and younger leaders to the Society is important because they won’t fall back on old ways; they will bring fresh perspectives and ideas and are motivated to act on them. Change can be uncomfortable. We tend to associate change as a negative, but it does not have to be. I ask that we all look for the positives during 2018 and continue to do great things for ISA. Let us build on a great past for an even greater future.

How to join

The ISA Board knows that with great staff and great volunteer leaders, members, customers and partners, and with your support and commitment to ISA, we all can make a difference each day on improving ISA and shaping its future. Sometimes that difference begins with just a conversation with our peers and colleagues.

For more information on joining ISA, visit www.isa.org/join.

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.

Connect with Brian:
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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

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