IEEE President Jim Jefferies On The Value of Members

Our people are the basis of our success

3 December 2018

No matter  the country, the type of event, or the demographics of the individual—whether experienced or young professional, male or female, volunteer or staff—the common denominator of IEEE’s success is our people. Our engaged and inspired members make IEEE a unique, respected voice. IEEE as an institute is centered on our members, who create the value of IEEE, guide the organization’s direction, and allow IEEE to have such a strong impact on the world. Our volunteer leadership is envied everywhere and embodied in our mission and values.

Engaging all our members and updating our membership model has been part of my strategic agenda and actively engaged by the IEEE Board of Directors. While our mission is directed to advancing technology and the profession for public good, members are the gateway to constantly test our value propositions and our ability to meet contemporary needs—both technical and professional.

We need to identify the reasons why members joined and what is keeping them part of the organization. We need to be open to alternative membership arrangements. Our basic business models are under pressure from alternative publishing and convention options.We need to maintain their strength to keep our stature as well as to support our essential mission in educational, humanitarian, and public policy activities.


To assure our continued success, we must be at the leading edge, engaging industry and other partners, and providing an ever-expanding range of multidisciplinary communities. We need the support of our volunteer leaders in setting priorities and applying innovation so we can commit quickly to new opportunities while also being willing to discontinue those activities whose value may be declining. It also requires special attention to the importance of staff and volunteer relationships.

Although our societies traditionally have had the lead in the technical area, there is room to grow the richness of our forums by including additional perspectives. Some progressive forums are already offering greater inclusion via creative sharing arrangements, cooperative workshops, and multidisciplinary foci.

Affinity groups, like Young Professionals, Women in Engineering, Consultants, Life Members, and Entrepreneurs, are also a force in directing wider member inclusion and highlighting examples of success. There is strength in our unity, but it will take a subtle yet constant push to move it forward. A good place to start is at the local chapter level where there is a greater alignment with the needs and goals of the local section and a range of leadership opportunities available.


What I envision is our entire IEEE community, at all levels, engagingin activities that actively worktoward creating a vision of that future that is attainable by each group, from the smallest section or chapter to the largest board.

We have a responsibility to keep the magic going. We do that when we recognize and reward, when our tools help reshape a career, when our publication opens a new insight, when our conference builds a new community, when history and STEM outreach create excitement, when our standards or policy influence the future direction of technology, when we link technology solutions to humanitarian issues, when we leverage our impact through our Foundation, and when we open new, diverse leadership opportunities.

Looking toward the future, I am excited about the possibilities for an organization as diverse and dynamic as ours. With the supportof the people of IEEE, there is no limit to our successes. Our varied members bring together their diverse experiences, viewpoints, and interests to yield extraordinary accomplishments. That is what unites us in a truly global community as engineering and technical professionals and as IEEE members defined by a commitment to advancing technology to benefit humanity through our work.

It was my experience as amember that has encouraged me to devote my time and energy to IEEE, and I know that every volunteer I meet values being part of our technical professional community. The strength of IEEE is built from the bottom up. Those who attend local meetings, share their knowledge and experience, and help with the heavy lifting of coordinating and communicating IEEE activities are the heroes who make IEEE strong. We also have the ability to continue drawing and refreshing our volunteers from an incredible pool of members. They are the reason we have not exhausted all the potential for the future in continuing to grow in size and stature.

It is that innovation and creativity in meeting challenges and openingnew opportunities—that magic of IEEE’s people—that will create and ensure our envisioned future.

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