President Jim Jefferies on Stepping Ahead and Envisioning the Future

The role of technical professional associations in society

13 September 2018

The historic role of technical professional societies has been informational and educational: facilitating the exchange of knowledge, promoting guidelines and standards for professional excellence, and raising public awareness and recognition of their members’ contributions.

IEEE does not stop with ensuring their members are current in their knowledge. We are already examining the world of tomorrow, interpreting trends that will be important in the years ahead, whether wrestling with the implications of robotics, nanotechnology, or social media.

An increasingly important function for the organization is to ensure members have the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in an increasingly dynamic, ever-changing future.


Staying current with knowledge is a prerequisite for being a professional. IEEE delivers professional development opportunities and educational programs spanning the entire member’s life cycle—from those just thinking about engineering or science as a career to those already studying, teaching, practicing, inventing, or advocating for technology.

IEEE adds value by vetting and connecting relevant information. This curation assures that our conferences, forums, and publications are providing high-value information, pertinent to our members and society. We regularly review our offerings based on direct member feedback to assure we know who wants them, when they want them, and how they want to receive or access them whether face-to-face or online.


The value created by professional associations such as IEEE increasingly comes from our ability to provide supporting services and infrastructure that leverage the knowledge and expertise of our professional communities.

Due to our centralized position across diverse fields of interest, IEEE has a clear view of technical and societal trends, along with potential issues and disruptors. Our leadership position, built on the knowledge and insights of our members, provides the foundation to develop and promote change within our spheres of technical competence and professional interest.

Through coordinated activities at the regional, national, and international levels, our goal is to provide accurate information and recommendations to address technology-related public policy issues. And we do it from a global perspective to raise the amplitude of our public policy voice worldwide.

Our members are the change makers. They use their experience to help define and set high standards for their professional fields and apply their knowledge ethically and responsibly. Our efforts not only champion our reputation as the unbiased and trusted voice of technology but also support IEEE’s mission as we advocate for technology that benefits humanity.


Throughout my presidency, I have focused on the challenges and opportunities facing IEEE as a 21st-century professional membership organization. It is only in addressing these challenges—to retain and grow our membership, to ensure the continued viability of our publishing and conference business models, and to reinforce our leading-edge position in technology policy—that we can successfully position IEEE to purposefully serve our members and mission.

Understanding the environment in which IEEE operates is critical to developing the strategies for our envisioned future. As stewards of this future, our leaders must be more flexible than that dynamic environment, with a powerful vision that is clear, generates energy, and attracts new and diverse communities of people.

Our opportunities originate in our strengths: our powerful, widely recognized brand, our technical leadership across a breadth of disciplines, and our expanding societal and humanitarian reach and global impact.As a person who believes in the power of technology to benefit humanity, I find this to be a very compelling vision for the future.

I encourage all our members to be engaged with IEEE’s activities, to inspire participation from your colleagues, and to celebrate all that your IEEE membership does for you, for our professional community, and for society.

Please share your thoughts with me at

This article appears in the September 2018 print issue as “Stepping Ahead and Envisioning the Future.”

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

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