The word home evokes a sense of belonging and welcoming. IEEE aims to create a similar feeling by offering services for members at every stage of their career and by building a community among them.
IEEE President and CEO K.J. Ray Liu is committed to making IEEE the professional home for members. As he announced in his March column in The Institute, he’s doing that by “examining ways in which the organization could evolve to best meet the needs of all technical professionals in the years ahead.”
“The days when a technologist could count on lifetime employment with a single company are long gone,” Liu wrote. “IEEE can be your professional home base from the time you first join as a student member until retirement. IEEE spans our members’ entire professional life cycle—catering to those just thinking about engineering or science as a career as well as those already studying, teaching, practicing, inventing, or advocating for technology. IEEE offers the products, services, networking opportunities, and educational and professional development programs required for every stage of your career.” (Liu expands on his vision in this video on IEEE.tv.)
Tailored services for each career phase
To help Liu fulfill his commitment, he formed the Ad Hoc Committee on IEEE as Your Professional Home. The chair is IEEE Region 2 Director Barry Tilton. The committee has identified five broad areas that members and potential members can align with: industry; academia; public service; students and young professionals; and retirees.
Tilton says the committee has selected products, services, networking opportunities, and educational and professional development programs that are suitable for the five groups and cover the entirety of an individual’s career. A summary of offerings has been posted on the new IEEE Professional Home website.
The committee has operated with the understanding that there is no one career path that serves everyone, Tilton says.
“There are career beginners who really haven’t figured out where they’re going yet, as well as folks who are nearing the end of their career but still have a lot to give back,” he says. “Beginners can learn from those who have already gone through it. Experienced members can offer advice, such as what it took to move up the career ladder and what types of training, certifications, or additional resources would be most impactful.”
“IEEE can be your professional home base from the time you first join as a student member until retirement.”
Tilton says he has benefited from IEEE’s professional support in his own career. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, he works as a technical evangelist for Maxar Technologies. During the first part of his career, when he was working for the U.S. Air Force on aerospace and remote-sensing projects, his main involvement with IEEE was renewing his membership, he says, as well as reading IEEE Spectrum and occasionally attending a conference. After 20 years, the senior member decided to join the private sector but had few contacts.
“I thought—and luckily I was right about this—that IEEE might provide a good source for networking opportunities to figure out where I should go with my second career,” he says. “IEEE has provided me with both a framework to understand the art of the possible and a network to allow me to communicate with others.”
He says he picked up leadership skills while serving as treasurer and chair of the IEEE Northern Virginia Section. Now as director of Region 2, which covers Ohio, Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, southern New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, he says he gets insight on a regular basis from the region’s 27,000 members.
“IEEE really provides the foundation that allows me to communicate effectively with professionals in my discipline,” Tilton says. “And that, to me, is home.”
The importance of professional networking
In Liu’s March column, he wrote that IEEE “provides members with a strong sense of community and a worldwide network of personal connections that can help mentor and nurture your professional journey.”
Many members who have been profiled in The Institute say networking is one of the most important IEEE benefits. Senior Member Michael Kagan, CTO of Nvidia, says he likes meeting members who are working on similar projects, because he always learns something new.
“Being connected to these people from more diverse communities helps a lot,” Kagan says. “It inspires you to do your job in a different way.”
IEEE Fellow Lisa Su, chief executive of Advanced Micro Devices, told The Institute, “I’ve met many people through my IEEE connections, and they continue to be close colleagues.”
In videos posted under each phase of a career on the new website, members share their perspective about why they made IEEE their home base.
“I encourage all our members to be engaged,” Liu wrote. “Be involved and be part of the drive to reaffirm awareness of IEEE as your professional home to all members and other technologists around the world.”
Kathy Pretz is editor in chief for The Institute, which covers all aspects of IEEE, its members, and the technology they're involved in. She has a bachelor's degree in applied communication from Rider University, in Lawrenceville, N.J., and holds a master's degree in corporate and public communication from Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, N.J.