This year, the focus of the IEEE Board of Directors retreat was to identify the most promising methods through which underserved communities, including Young Professionals, can be better assisted and integrated in IEEE. For this purpose, twelve Young Professionals members from around the world were invited to participate in the 3-day meeting. This represented a significant milestone for Young Professionals in IEEE, since it was the first time such a large group of young members was actively involved in a Board of Directors meeting and effectively contributed to shaping the future of IEEE. Among the topics discussed, entrepreneurship played a big role, along with increasing presence and benefits for industry members, optimizing online services, and addressing members in Africa.
For the past three years, the IEEE Board of Directors has chosen a specific topic or challenge faced by IEEE to examine during their retreat, through an intensive 3-day Syntegration meeting and an additional 1-day follow up meeting. Syntegration meetings are specifically designed to help participants understand existing shortcomings or aspects that can be improved, and find viable solutions within a relatively short time span, while taking advantage of individual experiences and skills. Up to 50 participants are involved in the Syntegration meeting, including the IEEE Board of Directors, staff members and IEEE members who are familiar with the specific Syntegrity topic. The 1-day post-Syntegration meeting brings together a carefully selected segment of the 50 Syntegrity participants, who offer the best mixture of knowledge to make decisions and create an action plan. The strength of this approach comes from the impressive diversity it brings to the process, and the equal and fair involvement of all members.
In this year’s Syntegrity meeting, participants identified 12 topics that need to be considered in order to improve IEEE’s appeal to young people worldwide. These topics include communication, entrepreneurship, improving IEEE’s infrastructure, global culture, women in IEEE, increasing engagement in Africa, and new approaches to volunteering models.
Three topics emerged as key focus areas IEEE needs to address in order to become more relevant and increase the engagement of young communities from diverse backgrounds, and improve the overall sense of community. These areas are:
- Engage, enable and empower diverse global communities, by improving the current IT infrastructure and online presence, tailor the membership model to address the needs of diverse communities, mainly industry, and futureproof the organization’s engagement model.
- Serve IEEE’s communities of the future, by recognizing the importance of the African Continent, and creating a global entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.
- Support the development of Young Professionals, by creating a volunteering ecosystem to provide opportunities for Young Professionals and serving industry at the intersection of supply and demand for talent.
Looking to the future, the focus areas identified in this year’s Syntegrity cycle are aligned to a great extent with Young Professionals’ current Business Plan, that proposes new projects to be developed and implemented in the upcoming 3 years. The sessions also served as an invaluable reminder that we are one global community, and that only by working with each other and having an inclusive approach, can we progress and strengthen IEEE’s relevance to underserved communities. The teams involved in the post-Syntegrity session will join forces with other IEEE organizational units and committees, and continue working for the rest of the year on implementing the action plan.
Article Contributed by Flavia Dinca, Vice-Chair Communications