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

The post Broadening ISA’s Global Perspective and Focusing on the Next Generation of ISA Members first appeared on the ISA Interchange blog site.

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 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.

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

Source: ISA News