The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is to launch a series of news-style videos exploring solutions to global challenges and this got us thinking about the importance of the various not for profit organisations we take for granted across the industry.
A bit of desk research showed there were 281 professional organisations officially registered with the government. No, sorry, that is just those beginning with the letter A! The full list was too long to count.
The UK economy and certainly the infrastructure sector, would not function in the same way without these bodies to smooth the way. Trade associations, professional institutions, working groups, steering committees – they are great conduits for people who know what is happening on the ground to lead positive change and get across their views to government and major clients.
And often many vital duties of these groups are carried out by volunteers from industry. People working hard in their day jobs give up time to sit on a committee or organise an event. Why? If you have ever considered getting involved with a professional industry organisation, or encouraged your staff to do so, here’s a quick look at the main benefits.
1. Making a difference
Individuals at all stages of their career and seniority might want to influence the industry beyond their own role and company. Getting involved with a sector-wide initiative can help them put their thoughts and visions across to a wider audience than they might in their day job.
Employers benefit from the ideas that their staff pick up while contributing.
2. Giving something back
People may feel they owe a debt of gratitude to their industry and wish to give back. If they benefitted from knowledge gained through a professional body over several decades, the chance to pass on what they’ve learned may be a pleasing way to close the loop.
For an employer, facilitating this can provide additional job satisfaction for experienced staff.
3. Career development
What better way to enhance your profile than to add a couple of industry-wide committee roles? Your CV is improved and your visibility grows. Of course you also learn new things and gain experience to help in your next job.
Line managers shouldn’t be scared of this. For a start, the individuals’ next job could be an internal promotion – think of the volunteering as free professional development. Beyond this, having employees in visible industry-wide roles is good PR that encourages external candidates to consider your company as a future employer.
Getting out of the same four walls – physically or even virtually – to speak to other people from the industry about shared challenges and solutions can only improve your contact’s book. A healthy professional network has many benefits, from sparking ideas to solving problems.
For employers this is a huge plus – your staff come back to you with a list of new contacts, ideas, possible new joint ventures, and a more knowledgeable employee.
The UK infrastructure industry is huge and diverse. Getting your voice heard within it is not easy. Whether it be your particular discipline, your role, your region, your ethnicity or gender or any number of other variables, you may have aspects of your professional circumstances that you wish to influence key stakeholders about. An effective way of doing this is through your presence on a key committee interacting with potential key clients and government.
Of course anyone representing themselves is also standing there as part of their company so sending staff off for these duties can only help employers get value from the fees they pay to membership bodies to represent them.
A good example of an influential trade body is the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE). We have recently been retained to recruit ACE’s next Chief Executive Officer.