Thank you for your questions.
Your comments about CPD are well made. In fact, prompted by member questions, Congress discussed CPD at our most recent session. In brief, Congress concluded that IChemE’s approach to CPD is progressive and practical. It encourages members to develop plans for their professional development based on their particular situation and enables a wide range of activities, including development plans required by an employer, to contribute. On an individual level, the specific activities that count towards CPD depend on personal needs and plans. CPD can be primarily learning (eg professional reading, attending courses, webinars), or participating (eg attending IChemE member events) or contributing (eg volunteering for an IChemE committee or group, mentoring, assessor, STEM program). In Congress's opinion, most of the member questions about CPD are driven by a lack of understanding rather than a fundamental problem with CPD. More effective communication such as the use of video, webinars, brief overview at member events to name a few would reduce member concerns. I question whether a wider understanding that volunteering contributes to CPD would lead to an increase in members volunteering in isolation from other improvements. For example improving systems and processes to enable members to see the multiplicity of ways in which they can contribute, understand what is expected of volunteers, be able to easily select their area(s) of interest and get feedback as to if and when they can actually get involved. Whilst I hear feedback that whilst they would like to get involved, it is too hard or they offered but have heard nothing since. On the other hand, there are many committees with gaps and projects needing help. We should question whether we have made things too complex, or/and are asking members to do things that do not interest them. When I started the election process, a little over 3 months ago, my drivers were to build on the process of reform and modernisation that is already underway at IChemE, to make it more inclusive of member needs and in so doing support members contribute to society. There are numerous examples of this reform such as the establishment of Congress and opening up of elections for the BoT. In my experience many of IChemE's systems, structures and processes, whilst well-intentioned, are complex, prescriptive, overlapping, often operating in silos and frankly confusing. These are symptoms of a culture which is struggling to keep pace with the ongoing changes. My priority was to support rapid implementation of key projects already underway such as Project SMART and the update of some of the IT systems whilst encouraging simplification, focus and streamlining of activities and processes that are no longer useful. Over time, the cultural change together with the adoption of a communication style, tools and techniques designed to engage and energise more of the membership, such as the use of video, personalising communication would consolidate the improvements already underway before adding any new “pet projects”. However, COVID-19 has changed all of our worlds and institutions including IChemE must rapidly come to terms with these changes to recognise and respond to the threats and opportunities that are emerging. From where I stand today I see many challenges ahead which based on the limited IChemE specific information available to me I anticipate 3 phases of activity over at least the next 18 months, Naturally achieving this may involve delaying or stopping other activities.
Stage 1 : Preserve (Now until June) Focus on protecting staff, supporting members through the sharing of information and scenario planning to understand the range of potential impacts, including financial impacts Support work of IChemE’s COVID-19 engineering response team (and related local initiatives) to identify areas where chemical engineers can assist governments and share member experience and knowledge.
Stage 2 : Step-Up (April through December) Develop and rollout tools/capability for MGs, SIGs and others to operate virtually Pivot curriculum to deliver long term through webinars, podcasts, vodcasts,(not face to face) Identify and strongly promote “free stuff” to members to build skills (not just COVID-19 related but across many areas such energy and resource efficiency, managing for safety in times of resource constraints etc) so that members recognise the value for money in their membership Where relevant advocate for regulatory settings fit for resilience and recovery Invest in technology to support members and staff
Stage 3 : Be bold (June through Dec 21) Bring the digital strategy forward 12 months to accelerate becoming “a global professional body that is able to service its members at any time where there is internet access” Focus on providing the skills and experience for members at all stages of their professional journey recognising that transformations promoted by COVID-19 are only one of the engineerings grand challenges and community transformations that will face us all during our professional lives.