August 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - July 2004

My agenda is your agenda. It is guided by your needs as you have communicated them to ASSE's leadership.

2004-2005 ASSE President Gene Barfield, CSP

The Future of ASSE and the Profession

Over the last few months, many fellow SH&E professionals have asked me, “What will your agenda be as ASSE president?” I reply, “To maintain the progress established by previous Society leaders.” If elected leaders had different agendas each year, ASSE would not be a “strategically led” organization based on knowledge and forward planning, but one based on ever-changing personal agendas. My agenda is your agenda. It is guided by your needs as you have communicated them to ASSE's leadership.

As your Society president, I plan to improve some current processes and to initiate some new areas of service in order to help our members meet emerging challenges in this dynamic profession. These are some areas in which we must continue to improve.

  • Strategic Planning. Knowledge-based strategic planning is critical to the success of the Society and the SH&E profession. We must expand this plan to every level of the Society and communicate where we want to go and how we will get there. As new chapter and region leaders are elected, we must train them in this strategic planning process. This education process must start early—when members first volunteer at the chapter level. The executive director and staff directors must also understand and embrace the knowledge-based planning process, since they are the bonding agent as volunteer leaders progress through their terms of service to the Society. They must also work together to solidify our objectives and prevent redundant efforts between the different Society councils and departments.

  • Society Growth. Recent surveys indicate that ASSE is only reaching about 25 percent of SH&E professionals. We need to bring these other professionals into our group. By growing our membership base, we gain potential leaders, increase networking opportunities and develop improved processes. More members also give ASSE a larger voice with industry, regulators and legislators. In addition to growing more members and fostering new leaders, we must continually challenge current officers so we can best use their proven expertise.

  • Emerging SH&E Challenges. Today's SH&E professionals must effectively deal with emerging challenges such as environmental responsibilities and security issues, both physical and biological. Globalization is part of our daily routine. It demands that we manage additional regulations and interact regularly with management from different nations. ASSE must provide programs and services to help members successfully handle these new responsibilities.

  • Business of Safety. More than ever, SH&E professionals must understand business finance and use the language of management. We must convince management that an effective safety program has a positive financial impact—not only on operations, but also on the company's overall financial health and corporate image. ASSE must provide opportunities for members to learn about the business side of safety.

  • Outsourcing Trend. Many companies cannot afford to have staff members with specialties in an infrequently needed skill. Combined with continued rightsizing and downsizing trends, this means that a growing number of SH&E managers are being asked to administer safety programs with the help of outside services. To do so, they must learn how to evaluate and manage these contractors. ASSE must help practitioners build these skills. The Society must also provide members with opportunities to gain the knowledge and networking resources needed to ensure that these contractors are competent and able to provide the information and guidance needed to communicate and implement corrective actions identified.

Future messages will review these plans in greater detail. Please continue to provide your input regarding the future direction of the Society.

Gene Barfield, CSP