CS President's Blog

Jim IsaakAn opportunity for Computer Society members to engage in a dialog and provide feedback on topics discussed by CS President Jim Isaak. Also see the President's Corner for the current status and history of Computer Society board activities, as well as information on how and why to get more involved.

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Election Results and Your Future

My congratulations to the candidates selected by our recent IEEE and Computer Society elections.  For a full list of IEEE and Computer Society results, please see the IEEE list and the Computer Society list.  

May I add to this my encouragement for you to vote in future IEEE and CS elections. There is a frustration for all involved.  While I know most of the candidates in these elections, and can use my personal knowledge to make selections ... most of our members do not have that opportunity. How can you vote for a person you don't know?  You look at the bio, picture, and statements -- please do -- and then have to pick something that seems to resonate with one candidate over another.  There is no good alternative to this (yet - we may be able to get YouTube videos of each candidate making a statement about their relevance and objectives, that could help.) So folks use considerations such as in-my-field, alumni of my school (or a good one), tenured faculty, high level in industry, country of residence, gender, apparent age, etc. Some of these elements are considered "discriminatory", but these are secret elections, and it is up to you to use the criteria you find most appropriate.
The Nominations Committee and Board (both CS and IEEE) really do try to get top candidates for each position.  If you think they missed someone, by all means, submit that name and contact information to the appropriate nominations committee.  They typically have more candidates than slots on the ballot, but I've never heard of a nominating committee that had too many recommendations.  If you think our organizations are "Old Boys Clubs" -- consider how we get our candidates, the folks involved recommend folks they know who would do a good job -- this has a self-perpetuating aspect to it.  So please do help us find someone who is not quite as old, as male or in-the-club; again I know of no nominating committee who is not hoping to find some new blood.
There are some biases. For the President, there is a preference for someone who has served in the relevant board(s) and knows the challenges of the organization. "Big Names" are not necessarily an asset. It would have been fun to have Tom Watson (IBM founder) on the Computer Society Board -- it is not clear if he would have been available or oriented towards providing good leadership for the Society -- I will let you sort current examples here. Volunteer leadership in a not-for-profit is a non-trivial challenge; and just as swapping a CEO for a University Dean, or a Senior Faculty member for a CEO is a a risky transformation -- which some times works. 
But, we can bring folks in the much larger doors at the entrance to the leadership team -- operating board members (see list) are done by appointment, and if you want to get involved - or draw someone else in, please get name and contact information to our get-involved team. . This is a good time as we start staffing our groups for 2011.
I encourage those who hope to move "up" in the world of IEEE or the Computer Society to seek out diverse experience. Our typical volunteer leader comes in as a result of activity in some specific area.  I came in the 'standards committee' door, others come in via conferences, publications, chapters or educational activities. Each of these has it's view of the world, and it is very valuable to have individuals with exposure or experience in more than one of these. For better or worse, IEEE is a parallel structure with the Computer Society, only bigger, and exposure to IEEE's operations, staff and leadership are advantages as well.
If I had to provide any general guidance on the issue of voting, I encourage you to help us gain the greatest diversity possible.  As indicated in my prior blog entries, diversity is the key to innovation.  It is also essential to finding paths that serve the greatest range of our colleagues.  Diversity in our space includes ranges of industry and academia, our global awareness, gender, age, backgrounds, etc. So perhaps you pick some candidates for the types of reasons indicated above; but also consider picking a few that reflect the broadest diversity we can attract.
The bottom line: get involved -- vote in our elections, volunteer for local, regional, national and international roles -- recommend candidates for leadership roles, and expand your experiences to benefit our society and your own future.
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