By G. M. Hancock
As part of their on-going efforts to promote leadership among future service officers across different fields, and particularly within HFES national, the HFES Leadership Development Committee continues to endorse and encourage the Emerging Leaders Program. As part of this professional development opportunity, selected individuals will be able to interact with Executive Council members over the course of the mid-year and annual meetings. This program therefore provides valuable insight into the vision, structure, and formal workings of service positions within the wider organization. Two emerging leaders were selected to take part in the program at the 2018 Annual Meeting in Philadelphia: Farzan Sasangohar and Theresa Torres Kessler.
Farzan Sasangohar is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University. Sasangohar said of his experience: “I had the pleasure of attending the HFES Executive Council meeting at the 2018 Annual Meeting under the Emerging Leaders program. This was a great opportunity to observe how EC members work very closely for two days to make decisions aimed at improving the status of our society, promoting our science, and creating opportunities for growth. I was given the opportunity to participate in discussions and learn about the governing rules and decision-making processes used by HFES. I was also assigned a senior mentor who was a longtime member of the EC and very experienced with and knowledgeable about the functioning of HFES. He shared invaluable information about HFES's history and insight on how to improve as a leader. While the two days of EC meetings were intense, I was also invited to several social events that allowed me to get to know the EC members better. Overall, I found the program extremely helpful and I highly recommend it to all interested in leadership roles at HFES.” See below to hear about Farzan's experience in his own words:
Theresa Torres Kessler is a doctoral candidate in the Minds in Technology/Machines in Thought (MIT2) Laboratory at the University of Central Florida. Kessler said that her experience “demonstrated how important each and every volunteer is and why it’s so important for members to get involved”. As a result of her participation, Kessler has since become involved in the mentorship committee and the retention sub-committee. In her own words, “my tendency is to get involved in things that are important to me. Given this, when I got the opportunity to participate in this year’s emerging leader program at the annual HFES conference I jumped at the chance. What I learned as an emerging leader was both surprising and provided a strong calling to continuously be involved. Prior to this experience, I had not realized that the entire executive council was working on a volunteer basis. Not only does the council service our organization free of charge, but they are constantly trying to come up with ways to make the organization more effective in servicing its members’ needs. In addition, I learned that HFES runs on a staggeringly small amount of funds. Because it is non-profit, achieving the organization’s mission would not be possible without the council or without the large numbers of volunteers on the numerous committees and groups that represent the different interests of the varied HFES members. The job that the executive committee undertakes is difficult, yet what I saw was that each service member was dedicated to their task and happy to be there. During my attendance at the council meetings, I was able to meet each executive council member and discuss my career goals with them. Each person was able to provide me with advice, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Of course, it is up to me to act on their advice. After this experience, my first act was to put the call of service I feel into action by volunteering for a few committees. It is my belief that the attitude of service and mentorship to one another in the HFES family is what will continue to make our organization strong. When each member finds a niche, however small it may be, to give back to the other members of the organization, they should act on that opportunity. This reciprocal nature of service and reception is the best way to see the full benefits of membership. I thank the executive committee for setting such a laudable example of this commitment!” See below to hear about Theresa's experience in her own words:
Based on these positive experiences, the Leadership Development Committee encourages all members – students and professionals alike – to be on the look-out for the forthcoming call for applicants to the Emerging Leaders Program at this year’s annual meeting in Seattle and other opportunities for leadership development.