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Noel’s Notes – 2013: ‘Year of the Volunteer’ for PES

May-Election-noel(1)Last week with the Chinese New Year, we saw the start of the “Year of the Snake.” As we head into 2013, PES volunteer leaders and staff have discussed our goals and activities for 2013. One theme has resonated with our goal setting – the need to increase our volunteer infrastructure to match the growing opportunities and activities of the Power & Energy Society. So we are officially calling 2013 the “Year of the Volunteer” for PES!

In past Noel’s notes and Leader’s Corners I have discussed how this is our time as power and energy professionals in light of all the activities around renewable energy, smart grid, and electric vehicles. We have seen these opportunities create an expansion of our PES member network as our membership passed 30,000 early in 2013.

Over the last several years the IEEE Power & Energy Society has seen an explosion of new activities across our many areas. We have seen growth in conferences worldwide, large increases in submissions of papers, the addition of several new publications, development of educational and technical resources, an increase in our student and member chapters worldwide and more. During the last five years the PES Governing Board, working with Executive Director Pat Ryan, evaluated these new programs and we were able to add staff to the PES Executive Office to help us advance these initiatives and activities. With each initiative or activity, we work to evaluate the benefits to our members and future members and how we can help our professional grow and move forward. Additionally we look at the PES finances and make sure we can sustain the new staff. Over this time we have doubled our Executive Office staff to enable us to continue our legacy activities as well as start new ones. We now have 15 PES staff (staff website) that help provide energy, enthusiasm and support of PES activities across the board. These staff members go above and beyond in working with PES volunteer leaders, members and other IEEE entities to help advance PES.

While our programs and Executive Office staff have grown, our volunteer infrastructure to support these programs and provide technical and operational help to our Executive Office staff has not grown at the same pace. In several cases we have volunteer leaders helping in multiple efforts, which is creating some “volunteer fatigue” as these faithful PES members try to balance their day jobs with their PES volunteer activities. So here lies the major push for “2013- The Year of the Volunteer”. The PES Governing Board and I will be spending the first part of 2013 evaluating our current volunteer infrastructure in our main areas of conferences, publications, education, membership and image, technical activities, chapters, and new initiatives and outreach. We will be looking at our areas of growth over the last several years and how we can add some breadth and depth of our PES member involvement with the following goals in mind:

  • Increase the opportunities for all members to get more involved and also find ways for our newer members to get more involved in volunteer leadership roles
  • Develop additional strategic and operational support of the PES Executive Office staff
  • Increase our depth in volunteer leadership including succession planningand increase the training activities for new volunteer leaders
  • Distribute the volunteer activities across a larger base to maximize engagement and to minimize volunteer fatigue and burnout.

While in the past many of the PES volunteer leadership activities required some travel and face-to-face meetings, we are seeing an evolution of involvement that allows for the use of conference calls, video conference calls, and discussion boards in many PES volunteer roles so you can participate from anywhere in the world with a reduced time commitment. Additionally with our expanded activities, chapters, conferences, educational or other PES events may be in your backyard. The increased involvement of PES members worldwide as a volunteer is going to be essential to the future of the power and energy field as well as PES.

In March, we will be sending out a volunteer survey asking PES members to consider getting more involved in our PES volunteer roles. In that survey there will be a list of opportunities across our society for you to consider. Some activities might take 2-3 hours a year and others might take 2-3 hours a week. Each of us is working to balance our professional and personal lives. Additionally we have different talents and interests. When we volunteer our time, we want it to be to help move an organization forward and make a difference. Our goal for 2013 is to identify a match between your interests and our PES activities so you can make a difference and help us move PES forward.

So I challenge you to think about what types of things you would like to do as a PES volunteer? What are your passions? How can you help move us forward? If you have any questions or would like more information about different parts of PES, please explore our website or contact me (n.schulz@ieee.org). Be ready in March to sign up to be a PES volunteer! We’re counting on you to help us really make 2013 — “The Year of the Volunteer.”