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

What a great event ISA recently conducted in Montreal, Canada! We held our Annual Leaders Conference (ALC), previously known as the Fall Leaders Meeting (FLM). It was so exciting and fulfilling spending time with our dedicated ISA staff and volunteer leadership teams. Attendance was great, with many new faces present. And, of course, all enjoyed the excitement and splendor of this year’s Honors & Awards Gala. (Click here to watch video!)

Immediately following was ISA@Montreal 2018, the Society’s new multi-dimensional automation conference sponsored jointly by the ISA Food and Pharmaceuticals, Automatic Controls and Robotics, Construction and Design, and Process Measurement and Control Divisions.

At the beginning of the ALC, I had the good fortune of meeting with new leaders and first-time attendees. On hand were 35 new ISA leaders from sections and divisions across three continents, including members of five ISA student sections. The passion and commitment these young people exhibited were clearly evident in our interactive discussions. I came away encouraged and enthused about the future of our Society and the automation profession. To further cultivate interest in ISA among student sections at technical institutes and colleges, ISA is in the early stages of an outreach initiative to student advisors.

The ALC also provided a great opportunity for several important subset meetings, including gatherings of the Council of Society Delegates and the Standards & Practices (S&P) committees. The work of our Standards and Practices committees are essential in our continuing efforts to improve the security, safety, and efficiency of automation and advanced manufacturing of tomorrow and well into the future.

The Council of Society Delegates (CSD) meeting had 73% of ISA eligible sections represented by a delegate. These delegates represented more than 80% of the eligible votes. The four motions on the agenda were all approved. These motions pave the way for the following actions/changes.

  1. A dues increase of 10 USD per professional member. In some countries the dues increase will be reduced to 5 USD.
  2. Nominations for the ballot for elected leader petition will now be accepted by petition of any combination of at least five current and past Executive Board members or Society Vice Presidents who are in good standing.
  3. Any member, regardless of membership grade, is now eligible to hold elected office.
  4. The Executive Board can suspend a member if there is good and sufficient cause. The suspension can be appealed to the Council.

The ALC was also a time to recognize volunteer and industry leaders. It was humbling to meet the honorees who have done so much for our industry and profession. These are the people who contribute so much of their time and talent to develop high-value ISA content, including standards and best practices. They help develop our training and certification programs and help create world-class events. As an automation professional, I and the Society will always be grateful. Thank you for all you do for ISA and our great profession.

To ensure the long-term health of our Society and profession, we need to continue to develop the next generation of ISA leaders. The Society needs you to step up to a leadership role within your section, district, division, or committee.

ISA can benefit greatly from the knowledge and expertise you’ve gained in your chosen field.  Serving as an ISA leader can significantly advance career and professional development. It’s a great opportunity to gain vital leadership skills and experiences.

While we are fortunate to have great leaders and contributors for 2019, we need to encourage more of those to raise their hands and get involved. (Nominations for our 2020 elections will be open in the early days of 2019.) Many of our elected positions are uncontested. Moreover, for 2019, there were only three candidates outside of North America and only one woman. Leadership development and continuity remains one of our most significant long-term challenges.

Our Board is focused on positioning the Society for future success and relevance. If we want to become more globally viable and reach out to younger and more diverse automation professionals, we have to find a way to attract these groups to the Society and to the automation profession as a whole. 

I have no doubt, there will be some obstacles and wrong turns along this road, but we have created a continuous improvement culture that sets a framework for sustainable growth and value for members, automation professionals, and customers.

All of us need to work together to keep the Society focused on achieving its critical objectives. If we work as a team and stay actively engaged, we’re sure to keep the positive energy going.

In closing, I would like to send best wishes to all as we approach the Thanksgiving season and hope that your family and the ISA family have a peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving celebration.

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.

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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

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