Sunday, May 1, 2011

Looking to the Future: ASSE 2020

It’s fun to think about the future isn’t it? As kids, we imagine what life will be like when we “grow up,” as we dream of futuristic cars and similar flights of fancy, or ponder what career we will pursue. As adults, we wonder about things such as where we will be in 5 years, what our kids will do and the next great breakthrough in technology.

As president during ASSE’s 100th anniversary year, I have thought often about what the future holds for ASSE. What issues and topics will SH&E professionals and our Society face during the next 5, 10 or even 20 years? How does our work today ensure ASSE’s continued growth and prosperity?

Scenarios about the future are many, but one thing is certain. To advance ASSE’s mission and vision, we need your active participation. Whether it’s volunteering at the chapter, region or Society level, contributing articles to Professional Safety and the practice specialty publications, participating in projects such as the Body of Knowledge, or engaging in dialogue with colleagues at conferences, webinars and through social media, you drive ASSE.

Last year, I posted this question on ASSE’s LinkedIn site: If you had to choose a single area of focus for ASSE in the next 10 years, what would it be? The question was intentionally open-ended to allow for diverse responses. I wanted to encourage idea exchange and critical thinking that would generate feedback about future strategic directions for ASSE.

You exceeded those hopes through more than 110 responses that exhibited tremendous breadth and depth of thought. ASSE members clearly have a passion for the SH&E profession.
Let me share just a few examples:

•Mario Varela, M.S., M.B.A., CSP, stated, “There is a need to lure new membership from active SH&E professionals, as well as from engineering, SH&E, science and related disciplines. Also, it is important to generate more interest [among] high-school students to pursue the SH&E profession.”

•Todd Loushine, Ph.D., P.E., CSP, CIH, agreed with the need to attract high-school students to SH&E degree programs. He added, “I would like to see more support for faculty/researchers at universities.”

•Similarly, Jim Leemann, Ph.D., said, “There is a need to figure out how to encourage undergraduates to pursue curricula that will prepare them to become safety professionals.”

Many comments addressed certification and licensure. Currently, states do not require safety professionals to be licensed, but through BCSP, the profession has established its own process to provide a means of professional competency.

In his response to my question, Barry Spurlock, CSP, outlined a case for moving beyond the certification/qualification mentality toward licensure. But David Anspaugh cautioned, “Business over the next 10 to 20 years [will] change so drastically and rapidly that the need for safety professionals will become a luxury as opposed to an essential element unless we totally rethink what our contribution is going to be to the enterprise. The more we concentrate on certifications and licenses, the greater the luxury we become.”

Other popular topics included corporate social responsibility, sustainability, promoting risk assessment as a value-added activity, business of safety and continuing/improving marketing of the SH&E profession.

ASSE also will continue to pursue strategic alliances, partnerships and delegations to support its vision and mission. For example, ASSE’s Human Resources Branch reached out to the Society for Human Resource Management to propose a partnership between the two organizations. On the international front, a People to People delegation is planned for Brazil during November 2011, following our successful delegation to China in November 2010.

The year 2020 is less than 9 years away. ASSE is committed to providing products and services to support you and help advance your careers, which, in turn, will advance the SH&E profession. We also will keep an eye on the future to ensure that we add value to our stakeholders and position ASSE and the SH&E profession for growth and prosperity into 2020 and beyond.

To advance ASSE’s mission and vision, we need your active participation. You drive ASSE.