Final Message As CEO

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Dear fellow Members,

On 31 January 2021 my tenure as SAIMechE CEO came to an end after 13 years in the position. Whilst I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I must admit to having a little less enthusiasm for the position that I had at the start, and believe that I have reached the mature section of the S-curve in this regard. I also feel a very strong urge to return to some “real” engineering at this stage of my professional life. 

I believe that my previous hands-on experience as a Plant Engineer, particularly in the areas of boiler and steam, can add significant value to industry, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experience with fellow professionals going forward.

Well-considered

Whilst this announcement will likely come as a surprise for most of you, rest assured that Council have been aware of my intentions for some time, and that my exit from the position has been well-considered and planned as far as possible. 

We appointed Uncel Mhelembe as General Manager in February 2020 with the clear intention of him assuming many of the CEO roles. Even under normal circumstances it would have been impossible to cover all aspects within a year, and I anticipate being involved in many administrative functions for the time being. The pandemic lockdown has severely hampered efforts to properly introduce Uncel to many of the main role players in the profession, but I will assist with proper introductions when the time comes.

Close and connected

I would like to make it very clear that this is definitely not the end of my relationship with SAIMechE – I will simply no longer work for the Institution. SAIMechE is my professional home, and always will be, and it is my firm intention to serve the Institution at the highest possible level for the remainder of my membership. 

Having been the first CEO of SAIMechE, I recognise that most of the institutional knowledge and experience that is carried around in my head is quite unique. During my tenure, we rewrote our Constitution, implemented solid financial and accounting systems, and implemented our website and online membership management system – none of these typifying the work of an average engineering professional.  

I have thus committed to making this knowledge available to the Institution by staying close and connected, and I am very honoured to advise that I was co-opted onto Council from 1 February 2021.

Fore-runner

My time as CEO was made all the more enjoyable and productive because of the support of very loyal and dedicated staff. We pioneered remote working many years ago, and our success indicates a high level of maturity and commitment from all. I am grateful to have worked with Linda Robinson, Anisa Nanabhay, Carey Evans, Lynne Smedley-Williams, Jenny Fuller, Joyce Naude and more recently with Uncel Mhelembe.  

Anisa, Lynne and Carey have been with SAIMechE for more than ten years, and Linda had more than twenty years of engagement with SAIMechE, so clearly the working conditions at SAIMechE are valued and appreciated. Thank you all for your support, encouragement and advice along the way. 

Benefit through participation

A few years ago, I wrote an article for An Engineer’s View titled “The Benefits of SAIMechE Membership” and I would like to re-emphasise the key message of the piece. SAIMechE is a community of mechanical engineering professionals who seek to get some benefit from their membership. 

While your membership gives you some measure of status, the real benefit comes through service to the Institution. The benefit you get is directly proportional to both the quantity and quality of your service. I know this might sound off-hand, but think of SAIMechE like gym membership. You join the gym to improve your health and well-being, and you pay a fee. In return for the fee, the gym provides you with the facilities, equipment, staff and advice on how to go about this.  

But, whether you actually get any benefit will depend on how many times you go to the gym, whether you take the advice, and whether you actually use the equipment. The same applies to SAIMechE – you only benefit if you participate, ask for advice, and then act on it. The sooner you get involved, the better. 

A privilege

I have experienced significant personal and professional growth during my time as CEO.  I have been privileged to engage with fellow professionals across a wide cross-section of the profession, from schools to tertiary institutions to employers to state institutions. 

Few have enjoyed the general access and heady perspective that I have been given over the past years, and I treasure every moment of it. Nothing is always smooth, but the rough times have invariably produced the greatest learning and development. I eagerly look forward to more of the same in the years ahead. Thank you.

“Scientia Progredimur – By knowledge We Advance”.