Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Technology and Change

In an era of change, it is exciting to see all the things taking place in the world around us. A self-proclaimed change-agent, I am exhilarated by this and seek ways in which I can lead, drive or participate in new opportunities. Looking within, our Society is facing a multitude of opportunities and challenges. The choices we make today will determine how successful and relevant we are tomorrow.

ASSE is a diverse community. Diversity means different things to different people. For some, it means a wide range of practice specialties for our members. For others, it means geographical differences. And what about changing age demographics and the education level of practitioners? Diversity is no longer just race, sex or religion—and we must find new ways to address the needs of our increasingly diverse membership.

How many of you have teenagers who would rather ask a girl to prom via text message than face-to-face? You may think this will be a disadvantage to them in the future, but think about it this way. As the demand to utilize technology increases, the way in which we all do business will change. If utilized intelligently, some of these changes can bring great efficiencies. For example, when confronted with a challenge at work, you no longer have to flip through your rolodex trying to find the card of that person you met at a conference last year who may have the answer you need. Thanks to tools such as social media, e-mail lists and blogs, you can instantly ask your question to a larger network of people—and get multiple viewpoints and solutions to your issue, often within minutes.

These points highlight the many challenges and opportunities currently facing ASSE. As our membership changes, we must find new ways to address your needs. How will we best serve members both here and around the world? How will we serve members who prefer to utilize new technologies to communicate frequent bits of information?

One way we are meeting these needs is through networking opportunities that aren’t hindered by traditional boundaries. For example, through webinars and similar programs, professional development can be offered without the time and expense of travel. Last month, ASSE offered its first virtual symposium which allowed hundreds of participants to attend high-level education sessions from their desktops. The Society will continue to look for new and different ways to engage you, our members, as well as our business leaders, regulatory and legislative bodies, and other stakeholders in our profession. Through technology, we will also seek to maximize efficiency while reducing costs.

To help advance ASSE’s efforts to provide more and better services to such a diverse and ever-changing community, I will seek to advance the Society in four key areas over the coming year:
1) Utilize technology to add value for our membership.
2) Raise awareness about the value of SH&E professionals.
3) Leverage our influence by partnering with other organizations to achieve outcomes of mutual interest.
4) Execute and refine the new strategic planning process in which the Board of Directors has engaged over the last year.

This is an exciting time. I look forward to my year at the helm and I have great confidence that our volunteer leaders and our staff will continue to produce excellent results. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to contribute to the Society while benefitting personally and professionally. I look forward to collaborating with you. By communicating with you, understanding your needs as an ASSE member and SH&E professional, and understanding the state of our profession, ASSE will continue to be the premier SH&E organization.

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