Are You Getting the Most out of Your ISA Membership?

Are You Getting the Most out of Your ISA Membership?

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

 

During my years as an ISA member I have witnessed the dedication and sterling contributions of ISA members first hand. Whether I’m attending ISA division and section events, participating in Society leadership, or going to budget meetings, I have always been impressed and excited about ISA members’ passion and dedication.

Today, I am asking ISA members: Are you getting the full value of your ISA membership? To the reader who is not an ISA member, I am asking you to learn about some of the benefits and make an informed decision about joining our Society.

ISA membership costs just $120 per year and gives you access to dozens of benefits. But even more than these line items, it gives you a way to belong to the profession that you’ve chosen for your life’s work.

ISA provides its members access to technical information, professional development resources, and opportunities to engage with other automation professionals. Our mission is to enable our members—including world-wide subject matter experts, automation suppliers, and end-users working together—to develop and deliver quality, unbiased automation information, including standards, training, publications, and certification programs.

You can meet and network with some of the world’s finest automation professionals, and you can engage with people right in your backyard through our geographically oriented sections.

Global sections

ISA’s 140 sections, located throughout the world, connect members with technology, expert advice, and world-class programming at the local level, while ISA’s technical divisions feature opportunities to network and learn from industry leaders in specific topical or industry areas.

Given their local/regional structure, ISA sections offer a convenient way for members to take part in ISA initiatives and events happening nearby. Some ways that members can get involved and contribute at the section level include:

  • Attending regular section meetings to explore mutual professional interests with like-minded people
  • Inviting technical experts to present at section meetings
  • Speaking at local schools and universities to generate student interest in automation careers
  • Funding scholarships for local college and university students who demonstrate potential and interest in the automation field
  • Receiving local newsletters with market trends, technical articles,
  • Accessing training courses, technical conferences, and social events

As an ISA member, you should also take full advantage of your two free technical division memberships… and why stop at just two? Additional memberships cost only $10 US each.

ISA’s annual technical division symposia allow ISA members and the automation community to meet face to face with renowned experts and presenters, and hear first-hand about the latest technologies and trends. You’ll be able to exchange best practices and success stories, attend executive keynote presentations, sit in on standards committee meetings, take training courses, and experience leadership gatherings at ISA events like these:

Extensive technical resources

Are you using the technical knowledge that’s available and could benefit you given the challenges in your day job? Why not step up and participate in these industry groups or attend their events?

In addition to ISA’s geographic sections and technical divisions, ISA membership also gives you access and discounts for ISA’s renowned products and services, including these favorites:

  • ISA standards: Get free online viewing of ISA’s collection of more than 160 automation standards that streamline processes, and improve industry safety, efficiency, and profitability. ISA standards serve as best-practice guidelines through design, construction and operation, and they are developed by thousands of industry experts. In addition to viewing the standards, you can also participate in a standards committee and help shape the industry’s future.
  • ISA training: Your ISA membership includes discounted rates for ISA’s training courses, known and respected worldwide for their practical approach to technology You can take courses online, in classroom settings, or in your plant.
  • ISA publications: Get access or discounted purchase rates on more than 180 print and online technical resources, including books, newsletters, articles, technical papers, and more
  • InTech magazine: Members receive a free subscription to InTech magazine, which informs automation and control professionals about technical innovations, ideas, product information, news, and Much of the magazine’s editorial content is provided by ISA’s members, who are encouraged to submit articles.

Perhaps most valuable of all, you’ll grow as a professional by joining this Society. We have programs and opportunities that help you develop and practice your leadership skills, and by getting more engaged, you’ll meet people who can change and shape your career in the years to come.

Networking, mentoring, career advancement

In my case, one of the main reasons that I joined ISA was to meet other people with an automation and instrumentation background that could offer advice about challenges I was having in my day job. I found ISA members were always willing to help me in my early years. And now the table has turned, and there is a younger networking group in my section who look to me to give advice on their challenges. Being an engaged member in ISA is like belonging to a real family, where everyone is always there when you need them with no strings attached.

If you’re an ISA member and you haven’t taken advantage of all we have to offer, start now—pick an area to explore and start doing new things with your membership. If you’re not a member yet, consider joining us—we’d love to welcome you to the ISA family.

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.

ISA Will Grow and Succeed by Meeting the Needs of Both Members and Customers

ISA Will Grow and Succeed by Meeting the Needs of Both Members and Customers

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.

ISA’s Future Is Quickly Approaching, and Industrial Cybersecurity Will Play a Critical Role

ISA’s Future Is Quickly Approaching, and Industrial Cybersecurity Will Play a Critical Role

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

 

We are just getting into 2018 and some of us are already planning our summer vacation. Time passes quickly and the years go by so fast; it reminds me to reflect on the past and plan for the future.

Like so many ISA leaders, I have benefited from ISA membership. I have been able to participate in and give time and effort to ISA locally and internationally. The Society has reciprocated by providing me amazing opportunities to learn and lead. As an added benefit, I’ve enjoyed access to outstanding technical resources, and have been blessed to work with and benefit from so many talented professionals, many of whom have become old friends.

Our understanding of the global automation community is changing. As we begin to look for new opportunities for growth, our view must expand to include all the various industry segments and markets that depend on automation every day. With this new perspective comes the recognition that ISA’s ability to provide products and services for automation (professionals and industries) extends far beyond the process industries, where we have thrived for 73 years. We also enter 2018 with new and emerging technologies that allow us to engage in exciting ways with automation professionals and industries on the global playing field.

Emerging technologies = new opportunities

Emerging technologies have created new opportunities for automation, and have changed the roles, responsibilities, and needs of automation professionals. All of these developments impact ISA, its spectrum of products and services, and its global audience. ISA’s success, now and in the future, depends on its ability to seize these opportunities while remaining relevant to automation professionals and to the industries and entities they serve. How do we remain relevant?  We must continue to deliver value to individual members and to the global automation community – and we must do this with excellence.

In this month’s column, I turn my attention to a key area of continued focus for the Society—industrial cybersecurity. While there is growing awareness among industry leaders of the risks of cyberattack, we need to work harder to foster recognition in the marketplace that ISA offers real solutions to mitigate these risks. We have the standards, training, and technical resources for manufacturers and other industry organizations to improve operational reliability, profitability, safety, and security.

One of the high-level initiatives ISA leaders have identified for 2018 and beyond is for the Society to be the global authority for industrial control system cybersecurity standards and resources. When we talk about cyber threats, the natural tendency for all of us (including international governments) has been to think of identity theft and other cyberattacks affecting traditional information technology (IT) systems. People tend to forget about cyber threats to operational technology (OT) systems affecting a nation’s critical infrastructure in countries all around the world. Systems that control the operations of our manufacturing plants, chemical plants, water/utilities, power, etc., all face cyber threats with potentially devastating consequences, but the dialogue centers on data protection, privacy, and IT-focused cybersecurity.

Over the past several years, ISA has worked diligently to raise awareness of the control system challenges related to operations technology cybersecurity. Thanks to the Automation Federation and the tireless efforts and commitment of numerous members of ISA staff, volunteer leaders, and subject matter experts, the Society has taken a recognized leadership role in OT industrial control systems cybersecurity—not just in the US, but around the world.

We are off to a great start in this area, but what comes next? Is ISA positioned to fully take advantage of the cybersecurity opportunity? Are we “operationalized” enough to update and expand the current standard or to develop new standards as cybersecurity threats evolve? An important component of the ISA cybersecurity initiative is building a trained workforce in automation and control. What new programs should we develop to stay ahead of the needs in global industries?

ISA has developed an industrial cybersecurity certificate program, the ISA99/IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Fundamentals Specialist Certificate, “to help professionals involved in information technology and control systems security improve their understanding of ISA99/IEC 62443 principles and acquire a command of industrial cybersecurity terminology.” The certificate program has four different certificates that lead to recognition as an IEC 62443 Cybersecurity Expert.

Community college programs

ISA is already engaged with Cleveland Community College to develop industrial operations and cybersecurity training programs in support of workforce readiness initiatives. Can this be replicated at other technical institutions in the US around the globe? The demand from the marketplace for ISA cybersecurity training is increasing each year, and we will continue to evaluate our ability to change the current training programs as cybersecurity threats and opportunities evolve. It’s also important to note that conversations about cybersecurity can serve as the door opener to educate those about other important ISA offerings and capabilities.

On a personal level, we all have a part to play in our daily activities to prevent cyberattacks. We need to be vigilant in how we access social media; consider viewing these items on your cell phone rather than your PC or laptop, as a laptop that is corrupted will attack files on your hard drive, and potentially enter your companies network system, causing wider damage. Do not allow USB sticks to be used on your machine. When you receive emails, check the senders’ name and the content of the subject. If in doubt, don’t open it; send an email to the person to confirm who sent the suspicious email. Clear the cookies in your electronic devices regularly, and back up your hard drive frequently. If all of us apply simple precautions, we will contribute to security in a small way.

I am excited about all the possibilities the future holds for ISA, especially in industrial cybersecurity. We look forward to your contributions and support of these important initiatives. Please contact me at president@isa.org with your thoughts and insights. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you as we move forward in 2018.

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.

Broadening ISA’s Global Perspective and Focusing on the Next Generation of ISA Members

Broadening ISA’s Global Perspective and Focusing on the Next Generation of ISA Members

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

 

I am extremely honored to serve as ISA’s Society president in 2018. This organization has contributed so much to both my professional and personal growth, and I’ve been a strong believer in ISA’s mission for over 30 years.

I am only the third non-North American Society president in 73 years, and I hope this is the beginning of a more international dimension to ISA. I intend to bring this focus to my term as president and I look forward to working with my colleagues in all regions of the world to bring ISA’s knowledge, expertise, and resources to their countries.

At the heart of ISA are its dedicated members, volunteer leaders, and staff. I want to express my appreciation, at the outset, for your commitment and teamwork. The common, unifying thread is the passion we all have for ISA. This is an exciting time for ISA; the Society is well positioned to secure new opportunities amid a highly changing world economy and global automation community.

It’s essential that we always encourage our volunteer leaders to bring their perspective and experience to their ISA roles, emphasizing 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.

As we work to create a brighter future for ISA, we can’t overlook the significance of membership. Without a new generation of young engineering professionals, where will we find the next wave of ISA members? ISA’s long-term viability and relevance depends on attracting new members, and in order to attract the next generation, we need to be more flexible and more open to new ideas and prospects for growth. We need to work with university and technical school students to bridge the gap between finishing post-secondary education and landing their first job. Once they have a job, young engineering professionals need engagement from ISA to progress their careers and find the resources they need to excel.

Cybersecurity leadership

Another key area of continued focus for the Society is in industrial cybersecurity. While there is growing awareness among industry leaders of the risks of cyberattack, we need to work harder to foster recognition in the marketplace that ISA offers real solutions to mitigate these risks. We have the standards, training, and technical resources for manufacturers and other industry organizations to improve operational reliability, profitability, safety, and security.

I’m looking forward to working with the ISA Executive Board to build on the progress we’ve made over the last several years in our areas of strategic focus and our global brand recognition. Though we’ve made great strides in our planning process, there is still much work to be done. 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.

Strategic plan development

In December, the ISA Executive Board and senior staff held an intensive workshop to begin the development of the next iteration of ISA’s strategic plan. We will be working to develop the details of this plan over the coming weeks, but we initially identified these key statements as potential focus areas for ISA in the future:

  • ISA needs to review and enhance its strategy to create, capture, validate and deliver best-in-class content utilizing its engaged community.
  • ISA will actively seek out and utilize systems and technologies that are focused on the user experience as a way of enabling engagement and growth within the ISA community.
  • The Executive Board will operate at the highest standard, understanding its governance role in establishing clear and concise strategies and goals. The ISA Staff will operate at the direction of the Executive Director, with the trust and partnership of the Executive Board, to meet the objectives of the board and manage the organization. The Executive Board will engage to review the performance of the Society related to the strategic objectives.
  • We will develop and foster an organizational culture where all leaders are trained to collaborate on mission-focused, strategic initiatives for the betterment of the overall Society.
  • ISA will strategically implement programs to foster growth globally.
  • ISA and its brand family will continue to strive for a level of standards acceptance around the world such that they are the default, legally-recognized requirement.
  • ISA’s infrastructure of professionals, who are dedicated to furthering the core competency of automation, will work across the globe to educate and inform students before they choose a career, thus enabling these students to make better decisions about the future of their world.

These statements are guiding ideals that will shape how we develop the next iteration of the strategic plan in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for updates on our progress.

Setting global standards

In closing, I sincerely thank the Society and its members for this remarkable honor. I look forward to working with all of you in the months ahead, and sharing with you new evidence of our success and progress.

I have never been so optimistic about the future of ISA. 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 president@isa.org with your thoughts and insights. I look forward to hearing from you and working with you as we move forward in 2018.

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.

ISA Focusing on Growth and Opportunity as It Approaches the Promise of a New Year

ISA Focusing on Growth and Opportunity as It Approaches the Promise of a New Year

This post is authored by Steven W. Pflantz, president of ISA 2017.

 

Having just returned from the 2018 ISA Executive Summit, I am feeling good about ISA—where we are going and the opportunities that lie before us.  Being a bit out of the “center of action” for this summit allowed me to sit back, watch, and listen as our 2018 Executive Board and staff addressed the issues we face, but more importantly, looked toward the future and what we can achieve. Their optimism, energy, and ideas were both inspiring and comforting.

During the 2017 Fall Leaders Meeting, 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. At the same time, I also hearken back to the old ISA saying: “We like our customers, but we love our members.”

Members are at the heart of ISA. They truly “make” ISA possible. Without the “card-carrying” 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 (discounts on products, services, and events, etc.) 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.  That is OK in my mind, as they provide a substantial source of revenue that we rely on to do what we do. The simple fact is that a majority of our revenue comes from non-members purchasing our products and services.

We do 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.

We can also grow by expanding to other industry sectors—an undertaking that requires, in many cases, minimal work on our part.  There are many opportunities to make our IP available to other segments of the economy involved in automation. In doing so, we can improve on what they do 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 where we have just scratched the surface. It’s 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.

There are new business models and other ways we can put our IP to work. We have been developing, for example, new ways of delivering training, in an online format and in smaller “bite-sized chunks” that can be conveniently and easily consumed and digested. The purchase can be made either a la carte, or through a subscription-based approach.

One of the drawbacks of our week-long training events is that many people can’t afford to spend that much time away from their jobs. Ultimately, in the struggle to both access training and meet workplace responsibilities, it’s the day job that usually wins. So it just makes sense that we find new and better ways to make our training more accessible.

As for our efforts to grow globally, there is a lot of work to be done there, although our Globalization Committee is making progress under the leadership of Eric Cosman. It’s obviously easier said than done, but we need to make our business models and member operations adaptable to different cultures and business climates.

We need to apply what we’ve learned to examine alternative delivery models, find new ways of translating and marketing content, and better match the economies of scale in which we’re operating.  Finding technical solutions is relatively easy in comparison to changing attitudes and engaging others.

Change and risk are part of everything we do, and we have to learn to better manage them.

Overall, what should drive us is the desire to help make the world a better place by making automation professionals better at what they do. Thanks to our outstanding members and staff, we have a lot of tools and resources that can be brought to bear to make the world a better place and make automation professionals better at what they do.

Given that there are so many new opportunities, we have to think a bit differently, modify what 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.

To do so, we have to be open to what’s possible and not fall back into a technician’s way of thinking, which too often centers on what won’t work and what we can’t do. I have worked closely with technical people and engineers for 30 years or so, and we all need to admit that we tend to think from a “won’t work” and “can’t do” perspective. Let’s all focus on what we CAN DO.

In my final column, I purposely chose to not focus on the classic “recap” of the past 12 months.  We need not dwell on the past; rather, we should learn from it and think to the future.

I have enjoyed serving as president of this fine organization. Thank you all for the opportunity, and for all the fine friends and acquaintances I have made. As I look back at my 30-plus-year career, ISA has played a major part in my personal and professional development.  I have given back in so many ways through my involvement over the years, but the rewards and benefits continue to exceed what I have put into it. That is the same response I get from every other leader. It is quite simple. Give and ye shall receive and, in the process, ISA will prosper.

About the Author
Steven W. Pflantz, PE, is an associate in the St. Louis, Mo. office of CRB Consulting Engineers, Inc., a global consulting, design and construction services firm. He serves as a technical leader on many of CRB’s electrical and automation design projects, applying his extensive electrical engineering experience — particularly in the areas of instrumentation and controls. A longtime ISA member and leader, Steven brings to his role as Society president a deep understanding of the automation profession, the needs and expectations of ISA members, and the value and significance of automation careers. In 2012 and 2013, he served as vice president of ISA’s Professional Development Department. He’s also served on ISA’s Executive Board (2008 and 2012) and as an ISA district vice president (2007 and 2008). In 2012, Steven was inducted into the Academy of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He’s also a member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Connect with Steven:
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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

Leadership Transition Is a Process Not a Transaction

Leadership Transition Is a Process Not a Transaction

This post is authored by Steven W. Pflantz, president of ISA 2017.

The conclusion of ISA’s annual Fall Leader’s Meeting tends to signal that the end of the year is approaching and it’s time to begin preparing for a new one.

At ISA, an important part of preparing for a new year is preparing for leadership transition. Each year, numerous Society leaders fulfill their leadership obligations and a new group of leaders are welcomed in to serve in these roles.

Leadership transition need not be problematic—either for the individuals or for the association at large. If thoughtfully planned and implemented, it can preserve the best of what is in place and open a path to new ways of thinking and improved results. It can help organizations grow and adapt and meet new challenges with imagination and enthusiasm.

With all that being said, though, it takes some effort and consideration to do it right. We’ve all experienced situations within ISA where leadership role transitions weren’t handled as well as they could have been or should have been. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve fallen short in this area before.

Too often, the change in leadership is too abrupt. It occurs too frequently as a “handoff”—when it should be implemented in a deliberate, thoughtful manner—a true transition. This way, information, insights and experiences are shared. Questions are answered. Expectations are met.

So treat the leadership changeover as a process and not a transaction. Take the time to orient the new leader through a series of conversations or meetings. Furnish some written suggestions or reminders. Sure, there will be something you’ll invariably miss, but it’s a great start. You’ll be doing what you can to help your fellow ISA succeed and, in the process, build on the positive momentum you’ve created.

After all, the demands of change—both in the marketplace and within the boundaries of ISA—are difficult enough. By effectively transitioning your ISA leadership role, you can make a real, direct and tangible difference in helping ISA move forward and more quickly address the challenges before it.

I encourage us all to work together to maintain some continuity and keep the Society focused on achieving its critical objectives. If we work as a team and engage our successors early, we’re sure to keep the positive energy going.

Given that many positions are in transition, I want to again thank those who have given so much of their time and talents during 2017. I also want to sincerely thank those who are coming in to fill new roles. ISA is sure to benefit from your dedication and skills in the new year.

Without the contributions of our members, we would not be able to function. You are our most important asset.  Keep up the great work.

About the Author

Steven W. Pflantz, PE, is an associate in the St. Louis, Mo. office of CRB Consulting Engineers, Inc., a global consulting, design and construction services firm. He serves as a technical leader on many of CRB’s electrical and automation design projects, applying his extensive electrical engineering experience — particularly in the areas of instrumentation and controls. A longtime ISA member and leader, Steven brings to his role as Society president a deep understanding of the automation profession, the needs and expectations of ISA members, and the value and significance of automation careers. In 2012 and 2013, he served as vice president of ISA’s Professional Development Department. He’s also served on ISA’s Executive Board (2008 and 2012) and as an ISA district vice president (2007 and 2008). In 2012, Steven was inducted into the Academy of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He’s also a member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE). He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
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A version of this article also has been published at ISA Insights.

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