1. How would you specifically propose to expand the value and influence of AACE to the corporations and organizations that employ our members?
To expand our value and influence to corporations and organizations, AACE International has to focus on demonstrating what we already know as members: that being a member of this association exposes participants to industry-leading technical and educational resources as well as industry-recognized certifications. To accomplish this, AACE needs to continue focusing a coordinated effort to market our quality products to these corporation and organizations on a global level. This would include: identifying specific target entities including key decision makers; developing material specifically for those targets which would focus on the industries served (i.e., healthcare, mining, energy and power, infrastructure, building, etc.) and the skills they need (i.e., estimating, Earned Value, planning & scheduling, risk management, project controls, etc.) and other services they need (i.e., training); and presenting the customized package through a coordinated effort that includes members, local Section leaders, AACE leaders and HQ. This effort will also focus on the other benefits and opportunities AACE presents, like employment and job advertising; young professional, woman, and diversity leadership development programs; and opportunities for networking with top industry professionals and organizations.
2. In order to possibly promote increased attendance, would you be supportive of a more affordable Annual Meeting registration fee scheme for the members?
It would be easy to answer “Yes” to this question; however, AACE already provides a discounted Annual Meeting registration fee for members, which is approximately $100 less than the non-member price. So, I would not immediately support further reducing the Annual Meeting registration fee for members without research into the overall impact this would have on the revenue generated (or reduced) by this scheme. The Annual Meeting is one of the largest revenue generating activities conducted by the Association and any reduction in this revenue would possibly have to be made up by other income sources (like membership fees) or by reducing costs at the meeting (which I would be against). Having attended other national conferences (i.e., ABA, ASCE, Construction Superconference and PMI), I believe that the $895 fee to attend the upcoming conference is well worth the price for approximately 16 hours of best-in-class technical professional development courses (@ $56 per hour, this is very reasonable when compared to other PDH courses I have taken!) Finally, after attending the Annual Meetings for the last 10 years, I have witnessed the upward trend in attendance with the current discount fee structure, even while other organizations experienced decreased attendance at their annual meetings during the down economy.
3. How would you propose membership be increased in North America and internationally?
As stated in my goals for President-Elect, one of my goals is for the Association to expand the membership base to 10,000 members by 2015 without sacrificing services to members or the quality of our products and services. In addition to supporting and fostering the operational plan already being advanced to implement the strategic plan for membership growth, I would propose we emphasize the benefits of our certifications, eductional and technical products to multi-national firms and organizations that serve global markets. For example, a Construction Management firm that generally supports AACE, has international offices, and is involved on projects around the globe would be a prime candidate for this effort. This could bring additional members to existing North American and International Regions that operate in the same locations as these multi-national firms, as well as to emerging markets that do not yet have a firm AACE presence. One consideratoin justifying this proposal is that a majority of non-members indicate that they are not members because their employer does not reimburse professional dues. With the proposal discussed above, we would be focusing on firms that do reimburse professional dues. Increading international growth in membership is a key strategic issue for the organization and contining to support the plans for the Interantional TCM Conference, China Task force and reorganization/addition of Region 9 are positive steps. Another proposal for increasing membership for the long term is to emphasize the efforts of the Young Professionals, Women in Project Controls, Diversity, and Mentoring initiatives. This effort would aim to increase AACE’s exposure to students and young professionals to attract them into our Association early in their careers. additional benefits to members as a means of drawing in new professionals.
4. What do you see as the two most significant challenges facing your position and how would you address these two challenges if elected?
The main responsibilities of the President-Elect are for the general arrangements for the Annual Meeting and coordinating the inter-organizational liaison activities. As such, the main challenges will be to 1) introduce new and innovative ways to increase the already positive momentum that the Annual Meetings have built up over the past several years and 2) to understand and be responsive to the cooperative agreements and relationships with industries, universities, associations, corporations and organizations that we serve globally.
First, to introduce new and innovative ideas to the Annual Meetings, I would propose the Annual Meeting Committee and Technical Board explore the process of certifying specific sessions (if not all sessions at the Annual Meeting) so the material would also qualify to fulfill continuing education requirements for maintaining Professional Engineering, AIA, ABA, or other licenses and certifications in addition for AACE recertification. This would be added incentive for members or other professionals to attend the technical sessions at the Annual Meeting.
Second, I would communicate and support work with the Executive Director, Marketing Committee, and Chair of the Inter-Organizational Committee to understand the current relationships and cooperative agreements, and endeavor to meet with counterparts at those organizations and attend their functions on behalf of AACE.
5. What are your thoughts on the AACE International membership category of “Emeritus”?
I am not convinced that the proposed Amendment to eliminate the category (as will be presented) resolved the issue as raised in the proposal. The title “Emeritus” is typically used to designate a retired professional or denote perpetual status. AACE, in Article III, Section 7 of the Constitution, states that Emeritus status may be granted “to Members who have retired from active business or have become incapacitated, provided that they shall have been active members in good standing for at least ten (10) years prior to their application for Emeritus membership.” Section 7 continues to state that an Emeritus applicant must have held “elective office in the Association or a Section and/or been a working member of a committee.” Emeritus membership status need only be granted subject to approval of the VP-Administration. AACE is now proposing an Amendment to eliminate the Emeritus Class as: 1) it requires that only one Board member bestow the award that carries financial benefits to the recipients, 2) this classification has more easily achievable prerequisites than “Honorary Life,” and 3) it carries the same benefits as “Honorary Life” and therefore opens the door to favoritism. However, the Amendment states that “All current ‘Emeritus Members’ will retain their ‘Emeritus Member’ classification.” This last statement raises some items to consider. First, we are not eliminating the category, but are eliminating any new applicants; so the category will just “fade away?” Second, how will the Association handle members who retire from active business – will they now have to go through the process for the “Honorary Life” classification when they retire? I have recent experience with this situation, as a NJ Section member and Education Board contributor has retired and is looking for options to stay active in the Association. It appears to me that the primary issue is the risk of favoritism, which could have been addressed by Amending the Constitution to require full Board approval to receive Emeritus status.
6. What do you see is working right with the Association today; in general or specifically?
Generally, I would offer that 90% of the services and functions that the Association performs are “working right” while the remaining 10% have room to improve. During my last several years serving on the Board, I have witnessed a couple of specific items that are working right today. First, the Association has seen significant improvement in the operations and efficiency at HQ to match the growing membership base. This includes coordination and administration of the Certification process and efforts to make certification more accessible to professionals through exam on demand and computer based testing – while maintaining the highest professional standards and CESB accreditation. HQ is also improving infrastructure and back-office functions for accounting, association management software, and website functionality to improve services to the membership. Another area that is working right is the continued development of high-quality technical and educational material by the Association’s volunteers that is unparalleled. The last and to me obvious strategic actions that are working “right” are those geared towards increasing AACE’s exposure internationally and include the International TCM Conference in Dubai, the planned growth into China and the addition of an additional international Region 9 and Regional Director.
7. What do you see as needing improvement with the association today; in general or specifically?
First, in general, AACE has to improve the communication and exposure of our technical products and certifications to industry sectors that are not perceived to be “users” of our services. We have industry recognized technical products, educational services and certifications which are “the best kept secret in the industry” and we need to turn this around and broaden the reach of our products. Second, I would like to see outreach support from AACE to recruit more volunteer leaders and contributors at the Section levels, who can absorb any additional work load, prevent “burn out” of a few individuals, and assure the sustainability of the Sections. Next, the Association needs to improve our outreach to Universities with the local Sections and globally – for example, our most effective route to the market in India could likely be through the university system. Finally, I see a need for improvement in the structured and controlled use of social media (i.e., LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook) and web-based services that includes a structure and guidelines for the Board members, Associate Boards and other leaders of the Association.
8. For the areas where you see the association needs improvement, how should they be addressed?
Most of the areas identified above as needing improvement are being addressed in the current Strategic and Operational Plan by the Board of Directors. However, as President-Elect, I can participate in and strategically contribute to the marketing effort that emphasizes the use of our products and our services. Increasing volunteer efforts is a more challenging area to address as the Association is competing for the valuable time of our volunteers which is already being stretched by personal, full-time job, and professional development obligations. Sections can help address this issue by reaching out to local contacts for help while also being supported by the Board and HQ services. Regarding outreach to universities, I will use the example where I am personally presenting and overview of AACE to students at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and I would work with the Young Professional Committee to increase this type of function and develop a plan for working with the Sections to bring our message to universities. Finally, to address the use of social media, HQ could inventory the online community groups while the Association leadership could dedicate specific time to brainstorm about activities occurring in and hot topics of discussion in the on-line communities.
9. What value to the association does the Approved Education Provider (AEP) program provide?
From my perspective, the AEP program provides value by being a consistent, quality means of teaching AACE’s educational materials to the membership, companies and other organizations that want Continuing Education Units, certification review or other professional development courses. AEP firms, instructors, and the courses they teach are approved by the AACE Education Board while the AACE also collects a fee to register and maintain the providers in the program. The qualified firms and instructors in the program are located globally, and are a valuable resource that have been able to teach AACE’s TCM Framework and other educational, technical and certification review materials, and deliver these services to our growing international membership.
10. How would you propose the value of the AEP program to AACE members be increased?
Based on my experience as Director - Region 2 and President of the New Jersey Section, I would first propose that the value of the AEP program be more vigorously advertised, marketed and presented to helping deliver educational services directly to the Sections in need. For example, it seems that Sections in Region 7 utilize the AEP program more effectively than Sections in Region 2. Sections could help develop targeted audiences of members who want to become certified or need recertification credits and coordinate the event on the ground or even through a web-based seminar. Second, I would propose that the AEP firms explore obtaining official approvals for their courses to fulfill Professional Development Hour requirements so the material would also qualify to fulfill continuing education requirements for maintaining Professional Engineering, Architectural, or other licenses and certifications. This would be added incentive for members or other professionals to utilize the AEP program.