September 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 - September 2007

Our challenge is to turn our energies and attention outward to our members’ customers—those individuals who make business decisions every day and create a demand for you and our profession.

2007-2008 ASSE President Michael W. Thompson, CSP

Creating Greater Opportunity

For nearly 97 years, ASSE has demonstrated its service to our global membership in support of this profession. Our record of success representing you, our members (our customers), exemplifies our mission to be “a global member-driven association providing representation, promotion and support for those engaged in the profession and/or the practice of safety, health and environment in their efforts to protect people, property and the environment.” Socrates said, “The key to greatness is to be in reality what we appear to be.” Let me be bold and say, “He’s right!”

One hallmark of the Society’s greatness in service is our annual Professional Development Conference and Exposition (PDC). During our most recent PDC in Orlando, FL, members and staff came together for 1 week to deliver on our vision and mission. Attendees gathered from nearly 35 countries to share experiences, exchange views and sharpen their SH&E and business skills. I am truly impressed by and grateful for our volunteer members and professional staff who devoted more than a year of preparation, willingly giving of their personal and professional time, to deliver yet another record-breaking conference. These members have demonstrated their personal commitment to the Society’s vision and mission. They are the true heroes of this organization and I want them to know that others have noticed and appreciate their time and service.

This month, the Board of Directors and other member-led Society groups will meet to continue working on your behalf. We also will hold our annual Leadership Conference to provide member-leaders at the chapter, region, practice specialty and council levels opportunities to exchange ideas and apply lessons learned. All of these activities are part of our continuous effort to provide world-class service to our members and our profession.

Focusing on you, our customers, is appropriate and yet this inward-looking focus can limit our vision leading to greater opportunities. We can and will be challenged as a Society to do more. Our challenge for this year and into the future will be to continue to promote the profession on behalf of our members while simultaneously turning our energies and attention outward to our members’ customers—those individuals who make business decisions every day and, ultimately, create a demand for you and our profession. These business leaders—your customers—affect how you and I perform our duties of protecting people, property and the environment in the context of daily business and within our communities.

In his book Execution, Larry Bossidy writes, “Many people look myopically at their primary customers and don’t pay enough attention to the customers who ultimately determine demand for their products.” We must devote our energy to transforming our vision to champion the professionals, lead the profession and resource the profession—in that order. To achieve this, we must ask, How can ASSE better prepare you, our members, so that your customers see the value of your contributions? How does ASSE support that process as the visible leader of the profession? Member-leaders are currently seeking answers to these and related questions. We have aligned the strategic plan to be a member-driven, service-oriented roadmap that will help us make our way in this global economy. We will be challenged to include the championing of SH&E professionals and leading the profession.

Driving these efforts and leading this journey to broaden our global leadership of the profession and become a key advocate for the profession worldwide are groups such as the Congress of Councils, the Council on Professional Affairs (CoPA), the Business of Safety Committee (BoSC) and the Global Task Force. Currently, CoPA is conducting a project to determine how to influence management teams on behalf of the SH&E profession. BoSC is exploring various ways to provide articles, research and interviews with key corporate personnel that show how effective SH&E programs contribute to business enterprises.

As we turn our attention outward to business leaders, your customers, our collective accomplishments will benefit you. Together, we can positively affect the future with a view toward the customers of our profession. We stand for sound science and practical management in the workplace. We can and will demonstrate that ASSE and, by association, our profession and our professionals, bring value to business enterprises and to our customers. It’s still about people and it’s about you. All of us can create greater opportunity. Consider the possibilities.

Michael W. Thompson, CSP