21 Dec 2010
On Tuesday, 9 November 2010, the Membership Advisory Committee (MAC) held its annual Members' Forum, chaired by Dr Geoff Fowler (Chairman of MAC).
The aim of this event, as always, was to bring together the Members of the Society to draw out ideas and initiatives on all aspects of membership and the Society as a whole. The event was introduced in 2007, and is a cornerstone of SCI governance, one of the ways in which MAC reaches out to Members as part of its focus on expanding membership, meeting Members' needs and the creation and maintenance of Technical and Regional Interest Groups.
To start the day, SCI's Executive Director 2010-13 Joanne Lyall gave an update on recent activity at SCI HQ, outlining achievements made and planned activity up to 2013, as well as introducing the new business plan which will be available online shortly. This was followed by a presentation by Diane Brown, Chair of the Awards Committee, detailing the new streamlined awards system and the ways in which it will better serve Members.
Alan Heaton, Honorary Principal of the College of Scholars, gave an overview of how the College provides a mechanism for supporting scholars in their studies through networking and mentoring opportunities, and encouraged members to attend upcoming scholarship presentations.
Jack Melling, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, gave an update on recent Board activity and John Brown, Honorary Treasurer of the Society, provided a presentation on SCI's finances for the coming year. This was followed by an open discussion, during which Members had the opportunity to raise topics of their choice. As always, this popular session produced a lively discussion, which this year centred on areas such as SCI's positioning and remit, ways in which Members can be better served, and how SCI can use the web to improve its networking facilities.
The event included a choice of breakout sessions, functioning as think-tanks to obtain Members' views on key areas, as well as practical suggestions for making progress. This year's breakout sessions were as follows:
The group discussed the potential ways in which SCI can reach out to small and medium-sized enterprises and make the SCI experience better for them, by providing networking opportunities and consultancy services to match their needs. Suggestions included offering assistance with best practice and training.
Recruitment and revitalising Groups
This group discussed ways of effectively recruiting members and maintaining the high level of value offered to members through events and involvement in committees. Conversation also centred on keeping Group activity fresh and on the success of recent Group mergers.
Supporting early career Members
This session looked at mentoring, the opportunities available, such as presentation and publication opportunities and how to provide effective networking facilities for early career members. It also discussed ways to reach out to students beyond the university level, and ways of using the web to provide services tailored to the needs of early career members.
This session focused on the position and remit of SCI, as well as finding ways to grow SCI's reputation for quality advice that can be trusted. Key areas of discussion included using awards to connect with industry, providing effective networking, and using the web to promote and disseminate information from lectures and events. We would like to thank all Members who attended, for making this such a successful event through their excellent suggestions and input. A full version of the day's events will be available in the Members' Area of the SCI website soon, and Members will no doubt see many of these suggestions carried out in the coming year.
For the first time, this year's Forum included a poster competition with cash prizes open to all student members. Posters were invited on any theme in applied chemistry and related sciences. Congratulations to Matthew Hudson who won the first prize of £150 and to Amanda Welford and Robin Blake who took runners-up prizes of £75. Many thanks to all those who took part.