This post was authored by Pat Gouhin, who served as ISA executive director and CEO from 2006 to 2017.

Recently I joined about a dozen other association executive directors for an invitation-only meeting in Hong Kong to discuss globalization strategies and challenges within the association community. We met as part of the Key Global Association Committee, which is sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

The Key Global Association Committee (KGAC) has only been in existence for about 18 months and has enabled ISA to gain valuable insight and exposure from within an exclusive group of our peers. KGAC selects members from chief staff executives of individual and trade associations, and reflects a new initiative by ASAE to tackle globalization issues facing leaders of various non-profit and trade industry associations. KGAC’s meeting in Hong Kong was the group’s third get-together, resulting from the invitation and sponsorship of Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Tourism Board.   They were the joint host of this trade study mission.

The mission of KGAC is to stimulate exchange of information between executives of major global associations and societies. We discussed opportunities and challenges that impact international associations on a global level, and focused on identifying common connections and solutions to achieve greater success. Within the group, there is an overall spirit of sharing coupled with the desire to allow other organizations to learn from the mistakes of their peers.  

This has allowed for rich discussion on all aspects of globalization and strategies that have worked well, as well as those that haven’t. Focus has also been on prioritizing world markets and sharing various models for different cultures. It is clear that there is no cookie cutter approach or single solution that is the key to continued international growth.

I believe ISA resources, expertise and leadership in automation and control can be of great value in addressing many global manufacturing and industry challenges. The meeting demonstrated that most global associations and societies share similar strategic interests and difficulties, and we all agreed that future emphasis should be on greater collaboration to address common challenges. 

While focused on the international front we have also uncovered opportunities that can be leveraged at home to benefit a broad segment of the engineering community. As a result of a consensus of views, ISA plans to enter into partnership arrangements with other international industry associations to leverage the collective resources and strengths for the betterment of the professions and industry sectors we represent. This is the most efficient use of our limited resources and offers the clearest and most efficient path to success. Even with such a statement, the trials and tribulations are real and the journey has just begun. Stay tuned for more reports on the globalization quest of ISA and the many good activities that are happening around the world because of our dedicated members and leaders.

About the Author
Pat Gouhin served as executive director and CEO of the International Society of Automation from 2006 to 2017. Before joining ISA, Pat served as chief operating officer of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and as the first vice president of Operations and Technology Transfer for the National Institute of Aerospace at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in engineering management from George Washington University.

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