I’ve been an elected official with the Australian Computer Society for a little over six years now.
In that time, I have seen the society change from a society with a key focus on membership and securing financial sustainability through creating diverse products, to the society we know today – financially stable through multiple products which help our country become competitive in the ICT industry.
ACS has provided a voice at both State and Federal Government with input into policy and through producing high quality publications which have been directly quoted by Federal Ministers, and even referenced in policy development.
Last year, ACS made some major changes, moving into new offices purpose built to enable members to have world class facilities for networking events and functions.
We are embedding into the tech start-up scene with our River City, Bay City and Harbour City Labs brands.
We are doing good things! We are growing into a modern professional association with impact and purpose.
An area where our society was lagging was in our governance structure.
The last time a governance change occurred there were few staff and many of the activities were completed by volunteers, elected or not.
We truly stand on the shoulders of giants with all the things the society has achieved, but we have reached the point where the structure in place is no longer fit for purpose.
The business of ACS is complicated.
The environment of the Management Committee and the people governing the society is changing.
We are lucky that our elected officials at both State and National level are a dedicated and passionate group, however I sometimes muse, ‘Are we getting the best people to lead our society?’
Under the current rules and regulations, the ability to nominate for a position on the governing body of the society requires you to be a member of the ACS Congress.
Representatives of Congress are nominated from each Branch, typically from their Branch Executive Committee.
You must be a Member of the society and in good standing, but there is no other litmus test other than your peers think well of you.
Once a Congressional Representative, you attend and participate and can qualify to nominate for a position on the Management Committee.
Realistically you need to volunteer for at least two years, and probably four before this is a likely.
Serving in a national role is a badge of pride and many people want it, and there is a funnel effect which reduces the potential pool, based on custom, culture and existing rules and regulations.
What if you’re already a busy executive or board director? Would you have the time to go through this drawn out process? Again, I wonder, “Are we getting the best?”
There is no slight intended for our existing volunteer base whom I also represent.
The new governance structure will clear a lot of this process out and even the playing field for any ACS member of good standing to nominate for a position in a general election.
There will be checks and balances to ensure the people presented to the members as nominees are suitable – checks to ensure ACS has the right balance of skills, diversity of thought and experience to get the best outcomes for our members, the society and Australia through our activities.
Living in a digital age, there is no reason why someone who nominates for a position can’t use technology to present their argument, share their thoughts and build their brand to allow the members to have comfort in voting for them.
I see this as a great democratiser and wonderful opportunity for the society.
This is just one of the many reasons why I think the governance reform in the society is a positive step in the right direction.
When members are asked to vote on these changes at the Special General Meeting, I hope you vote ‘yes’ at the ballot to help the society reform.