Dear Mr. President, Past Presidents, Our distinguished Lifetime achievement award winners, my colleagues in the Governing Council, Ladies and Gentlemen, Namaskar!
I am privileged and excited to be elected President of this Institute. I am grateful to each one of you.
I am aware that I will step into the large shoes of men who have lead this Institute with distinction, men of great vision and extraordinary commitment. I can assure you that you will not find me wanting in effort.
I am also aware that we live in a new world order. Technology is coming at us in tidal waves, pushing us out of our comfort zones and disrupting our lives. As it did on a rainy July day, when the DG’s office sent a circular that all Facilitation centres will be closed wef 15th August this year because they were going digital, in one stroke the IME(I) lost its biggest customer and the largest source of revenue and profits. Welcome to the VUCA world, one which is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous!
Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering at Google explains it well when he said “We are entering the age of accelerations. The models underlying society at every level which are largely based on a linear model of change are going to have to be redefined. Because of the explosive power of exponential growth, the twenty first century will be equivalent to 20,000 years of progress at todays rate of progress; organisations have to be able to redefine themselves at a faster and faster pace”.
How do we at the the Institute prepare ourselves? Allow me to share my thoughts on three major fronts: The overall governance, Training and Connectivity.
Let me start with way we govern this Institute. Examine the election manifestos of three candidates who stood for the President’s post this year. Examine the manifesto of all the candidates who stood for this post over the last 5 elections. There is no convergence of thoughts. In other words we leave it to the wisdom of the elected candidate to steer the Institute for the two year term. I am introducing the concept of having an Advisory Board consisting of domain experts who understand technology, training, e-learning, marketing and fund raising. This Advisory Board can then set a broad dynamic vision for the Institute which will be the for how we operate. This will ensure continuity and sustained progress. I will discuss this at the GC level before coming back to you for your approval.
The days of Honorary members governing the Institute are long gone. I know no other Institute of our size which runs with part timers. We have tried twice in the past to appoint a full time COO. We failed twice, not because the idea was flawed, or the persons appointed were incompetent. We failed because we were not ready. In my mind the role of the HGS is outdated. Let us take a leaf out of the IMarEST book. They have the equivalent of a Governing Council, a President and a professional team handling the day to day affairs.
Resolutions tabled at the AGM, need to offered for vote to the larger body of members and not restricted to those who attend this event in person. During this term, I intend to introduce for your approval, eVoting to be made mandatory for all resolutions that the office bearers place for approval. This will naturally force better governance.
Training and Learning, and promoting the spread of Marine Engineering is our Primary Objective. With the closure of our FC centers, this will be our revenue stream for the future. Our training curriculum is largely based on preparing young marine engineers to clear their CoCs. Our focus needs to shift to what the Industry needs and developing courses to make our engineers job ready. We took the first step towards addressing this Industry need by installing a state of art Full Mission Engine room Simulator this year. It is only the first step. I seek help on how we could expand this and also move towards online courses which will widen our audience base. We will also start work on creating a digital library for our members.
Connectivity is a key issue. As a first step we need to connect all our Branches and the HO over Video conferencing. This will enable us to stream live our technical seminars across branches to all our members, conduct GC meetings more frequently over video conferencing. I would like more members to participate in our AGM from the comforts of their home.
Since I was appointed Editor of the MER in 2013 I have pursued the agenda of the MER going fully digital. Despite several deliberations at the GC over the last several years, we are still printing close to 3500 copies per month! What a waste of natural resources. This term we will seek your approval to go entirely digital.
As we transform to a predominantly digital entity, we will have to make appropriate amendments to our Articles. They have stood us in good stead for close to 40 years. It is time to tweak them for this digital era. Permit me therefore, if necessary, to call a SGM sometime in April this year to place before you these changes.
Do I have the domain expertise to lead these changes? I don’t. And therefore ladies and gentlemen I will reach out to you seeking your expertise and help. There is a huge wealth of talent, knowledge and expertise within our membership. If we don’t employ it today when will we?
Thank you for patiently listening to me. I will conclude with apologies to Robert Frost:
The Woods are lovely dark and deep,
But WE have promises to keep,
And miles to go before WE sleep
And miles to go before WE sleep.