Charles Cochran, a Project Manager on the Traffic [...]
After being an active member of Alabama Section Institute of Transportation Engineers (ALSITE) since 2005 and serving as Secretary/Treasurer and Vice President, I’m excited to fill the role as President for 2015.
Recently, I chaired the first of four board meetings we’ll have this year. This was a transition meeting to help new officers become more familiar with their posts and review finances and other information regarding the organization from the previous year.
Since I have been on the board in years past, I have had the opportunity to see how things operate. I have learned a lot about various elements required to run an organization, such as financial stewardship, communication, event coordination, recognition of individual service and accomplishments and taking ownership of being in the position to help make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization and its members.
I was able to observe the two previous presidents as they did a great job and provided great examples for me to follow. I originally became more active with ALSITE following the example of Sain Associates’ leadership. The firm has always encouraged employees to not only become members of professional organizations, but to be active, get involved and help fill leadership roles.
Networking opportunities are certainly available just by being a member of an organization, but there are many more chances to really get to know people as you work with them on committees, on boards of directors and in other leadership positions. One of my favorite things about being so involved in ALSITE is the relationships that I have developed over the years. Those relationships have resulted in both personal and professional growth and opportunities.
Being involved also presents opportunities to lead discussions and facilitate sessions, which is important to us at Sain. We spend a lot of time learning and leading by doing, which may involve facilitating and leading internal meetings and work sessions, so having experience in this area in beneficial in professional organizations as well.
As President, my primary responsibility is to operate ALSITE within the spirit of our Charter and Bylaws. This means I will be responsible for managing the Section, delegating work to others, monitoring activities and encouraging professional development. I will facilitate our board meetings and regular ALSITE meetings throughout the year. When matters come up that need to be voted on, I will be responsible for facilitating that process. I will spend time notifying and corresponding with the Southern District ITE and International ITE. I will also have a lot of communication with representatives from various organizations, meeting coordinators and Section membership. I will take the lead on assembling and working with our 15-20 committees, such as the Technical, Legislative, Newsletter and Publicity and Service Committees.
As transportation engineers, we are very passionate about safety and the well-being of the public. Through our Service Committee, we complete several service projects each year that involve educational opportunities and raising awareness for the safety of teenage drivers.
For transportation engineers, being involved in ALSITE provides opportunities to earn professional development hours when attending Section and annual meetings. This technical requirement that we have is important, but as I have become more and more involved, I have gotten so much more out of ALSITE.
Being a part of a group that shares passion for what we do in our careers is very reassuring. It has also helped with self-confidence, knowing that being in leadership positions in professional organizations is usually a result of peers nominating you into consideration because they believe you have what it takes to be successful in that role.
For all of these professional and personal reasons, I encourage others to consider ways they can be involved in the leadership of professional organizations as well.