Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Incoming AOCS President's Address - Steve Hill

The 2013-2014 AOCS President, Steven Hill  (Kraft Foods, Illinois, USAA) gave his 'Incoming Presidents Address' during the AOCS Annual Business Meeting and Luncheon May 5, 2014 in San Antonio Texas.

Thank you AOCS for electing me as your new president of this pre-eminent technical society.

I always wondered what the view looked like from here.  Well, the view is great. Seeing all the familiar faces, it is like looking out at a family reunion.  A REALLY BIG family reunion.  AOCS annual meetings have always been like reunions and what do you do at reunions? You take pictures.

These are some of the first photos of the AOCS annual meeting.  We haven’t been taking group photos like this for years,

but I think now is a good time to reinstate the tradition, and I appoint myself official photographer.

Say cheese!

Before I get into my remarks, I would like to recognize and welcome several in the audience.  To the Fellows and Award Winners – thank you for your contributions to AOCS and to your field of expertise. 

Welcome to all the students – you have a great opportunity at this meeting to expand your network and knowledge base, don’t miss this opportunity. 

Welcome to all the first time meeting attendees, remember everyone has a first time – use this opportunity to explore the many benefits of AOCS and introduce yourself to others – you are at not only a great technical conference, but one of the friendliest meetings you will ever attend.

Finally, I would like to introduce you to my wife Laura and daughter Kelly who is probably the only person here missing a day of high school to attend her first AOCS meeting.

My first annual meeting was 1989.  I was 25 years old in my second year of graduate school. I was at the meeting in Cincinnati to give a presentation, and I was nervous.

I was nervous about presenting on a topic I had only been studying for about 18 months and I knew there would be world class experts in the audience ready to pounce on me with questions.  I made it through my presentation, I did not falter when the questions came, and I began a relationship with many of those experts in lipid oxidation that I still enjoy today…some of you are sitting out there right now.

As a student member I was welcomed into AOCS and the area of science that I was studying; this experience at my first meeting was repeated many times.
The experts I met warmly embraced me and freely gave me their time to answer question and discuss research.  I found this experience was typical of many newer AOCS members.
This example and the many other positive experiences I have had with AOCS over the years has led me to become an engaged member.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about engagement because the meaning for me has changed over the years.

Member Engagement:  A relationship in which the investment of resources (i.e., time and/or money) with the member organization is provided in exchange for value.
Simply put, member engagement is about a mutually beneficial relationship; a relationship between you and AOCS.  It is a continued relationship over time that requires attention, investment and activity from the members to gain value from AOCS.  The fact that you have all chosen to invest your time and money to be here today is strong evidence that you find value in AOCS programs. That’s wonderful.  But the success of AOCS, and its potential value to members is directly proportional to the level of engagement of all of you, its members.
Perhaps my story about engagement is somewhat more than the typical member.  I may now be what you would term an AOCS Ambassador –someone who champions the AOCS mission and gets involved in many aspects of the society.  But that wasn’t always the case.  I originally joined AOCS to become part of the technical research community researching lipid oxidation…something very specific…over time that need diminished, but other needs arose.  I increasingly became aware that for me to be successful in the career I wanted, I needed to become a stronger technical leader.

AOCS had many opportunities for me that I took advantage of over the years:
  • organizing and teaching short courses
  • leading the development of annual meeting programming
  • participating and organizing Division events
  • gaining leadership experience on the Section and Governing Boards where I established many mentoring relationships
  • learning about not-for-profit finances that I can tell you translates into how I run my “for profit” household finances;

I could go on and on…the bottom line is I made specific investments of my time, talent and energy (and personal money) into AOCS that have helped the society and paid a major return to me professionally and personally in ways difficult to quantify, but clearly recognizable.  And all along the way I made some great life-long friends.

It would have been easy for me to drift from AOCS as my professional responsibilities changed over the years.

Maybe another way to understand this is to link my engagement to what I believe.

There is a new song by the country music singer Dierks Bently, called “I hold on to what I believe”.  While Bently writes about a pick-up truck and a guitar, which I admit is very different than AOCS, I know I hold on to what I believe and I believe in AOCS.

I believe in working with others to advance common areas of scientific interest and common industry interests,

I believe in the AOCS Foundation and the new technologies they enable,

I believe in opportunities to give students a forum to develop skills in communication, confidence and courage,

I believe in leadership development,

I have held onto AOCS and remained engaged in AOCS because I believe in AOCS and I hope you do to.

Thank You.

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