2014: Many changes, many firsts
Having been able to serve as president of ISA was one of the highlights of my professional career—a career that spanned almost 40 years. On a personal note, my presidency year (2014) marked the 20th year of my involvement in ISA. Of course, I was keenly aware that the Society had only had one previous female president in its history. More importantly, I knew that I was the Society’s first African American president. I had had the privilege of working with these amazing automation professionals from around the globe and across a broad spectrum of industry sectors, government, and academia in the past, but to have the responsibility of leading teams of leaders across ISA’s departments and in geographic sections was an honor.
My journey began and ended with change and several “firsts.” A family conflict caused me to be unable to attend the 2012 leaders meeting, so my appearance and presentation before the Nominating Committee was done via Skype—a first.
In 2013, as ISA president-elect secretary and chief strategy officer, I began leading change, so the Society would be better positioned to take advantage of both existing and new markets by leveraging all its resources—all its entities and constituents—around a shared vision. My efforts were facilitated by the Council of Society Delegates’ change in governance structure, which moved the responsibility of setting strategic direction from the strategic planning department to the executive board. ISA also made first steps toward developing a competency-based board.
In 2014, we held our first executive summit in Greensboro, N.C. Leaders identified five strategic goals: data, content, coolest delivery, global authority on industrial control system cybersecurity, and advocacy of automation as a profession. For the first time, all of ISA leadership and its constituents had a shared mission, vision, strategy, and goals. And for the first time in its history, ISA’s entire strategic plan could be depicted on a business card!
At the end of my term, I said that ISA’s future was bright. I still believe that to be true. As ISA moves beyond its 75th anniversary, we must remain agile and have the courage to embrace and change with the changing face of automation and the automation profession. We must continually evolve—review, analyze, and change. My advice to Society leaders is to stay agile and open minded while you embrace change and innovate. Be willing to morph and change operational paradigms. Be diverse and inclusive. Find ways to practice engagement at all levels.
Peggie Koon, PhD, 2014 Society President