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  • 02 Jun 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    From the Desk of the ASEM President, Dr. Geert Letens, PEM 

    As the summer is approaching and a yet another academic year is coming to an end, many of us are getting ready to take a short break with their family: a deep breath that will allow us to pick up our plans for the future again when August arrives. For me this is a period of the year that I always very much look forward to. It generally allows me more time for family, friends, creativity and reflection. The big question that I would like you to reflect on is simple, yet perhaps not trivial. Have you been able to get the full value of your ASEM membership benefits?

    We definitely hope so, but as we realize that there is such an overflow of information that hits us all nowadays, I thought it may not be a bad idea to point you to some benefits available to all our members on our website.

    ASEM provides you a wealth of publications. I would like to start with the Engineering Management Journal (EMJ), our top-tier refereed journal with technical papers spanning the entire spectrum of engineering management, designed to provide practical, pertinent knowledge on the management of technology, technical professionals, and technical organizations. Since our partnership with Taylor and Francis (T&F) in 2015, submissions and visibility of EMJ have continued to increase. Members of ASEM have access to the full suite of articles that EMJ has published since its early years. Make sure you have tried the full-text search functions provided by T&F that allow you to easily filter on specific topics that you are looking for.

    I already mentioned our archive of webinars in the previous newsletter. Members can easily watch our recorded webinars at a time of their convenience. Today, I can announce to you however that our Chrysalis team (Bill Sabados, Patrick Kush, Trish Simo Kush, Gana Natarajan, Angie Cornelius and Paul Kauffmann) also has been able to add 10 years of archive of conference CDs to our website: another treasure of information that can inspire both research and state of the art applications of engineering management. And last but not least (let the drums beat!)…we have added the EM Handbook and the The Guide to the Engineering Management Body of Knowledge for members to download on our website. We will provide specific instructions to access these documents to all our members in a separate email next week. I strongly encourage you to take full advantage of this new exciting membership benefit.

    And there is more to be found on the website of course: two years of practice periodicals, all our newsletters, Blogs, job announcements, forum discussions, etc. As a member, you have free access to all these sources related to the latest challenges of socio-technical management in engineering.

    Sometimes we only realize what we've got, when it’s gone. I just wanted to make sure that doesn’t happen to you with your ASEM membership. In fact, I would rather ask you to help us promote the society. Especially towards young engineers that may be eager to understand the language of business to develop their careers. ASEM membership will put them in a position to prepare for professional AEM/PEM certification, allowing them to seek the recognition that they deserve.

    Enjoy your time off with your family and friends over the summer – but when you can, also shine a light on the benefits of our society!

    Geert Letens, PhD PEM

    ASEM President 2015-2016

    Please send your thoughts and comments directly to Geert at:

  • 28 May 2016 11:10 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Don Kennedy

    Of the factors that influence successful outcomes, there are many we tend to not feel comfortable talking about.

    One of these is when you as manager realize that a large portion (and probably the majority) of the people working for you do not share the same goals as you.  Sometimes they are not even aware of the objectives that have become your day to day existence.

    When you are in meetings where quantities such as overheads, profits and production rates are continually discussed, you may not realize that all your subordinates are not present at any of these meetings and are not receiving the same information.  It seems obvious to you that all the topics being discussed as critical will also be obvious to your subordinates.

    If you are higher in management, then you may be assuming that your subordinates would be running back to spread the message of what is being discussed.  But see the above paragraph!

    This problem is more prevalent in the past decade than previously.  At one company, I held a two day workshop addressing the problem of the workers not considering the impacts of productivity, quality and the client’s perspective.  Two months down the line, I was talking to an employee and they were unaware of concepts because they were on vacation during the workshop.  Within 6 months, 15% of the workforce had hired on since the workshop.  It was clear that within a short time a significant portion would not have heard the message.

    If one follows Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management, it could be proposed that workers do not need to know concepts critical to management.  If their day to day deliverables are clearly spelled out with all processes well defined, they can just do what is expected of them.  If one believes, however, that an empowered employee is more valuable, then you as manager have to be vigilant that the message is being heard.  Decades ago, I heard a radio announcer say that he was always surprised when people would phone in and say he was not telling the time enough when doing the play by play for sports games.  He felt he was being too repetitive by continually going back to mention the time on the clock.  From his perspective being tied up in the game, he felt the message was being told too often.  Many listeners (and especially those that tuned in late) felt the message was not being told enough.

    One workplace example is safety.  It has been found that just telling the worker once that it is important not to be seriously injured or killed on the worksite is not enough.  Great strides in accident reduction have been realized by holding daily toolbox talks reminding people of the message.  Frequent repeating of the message does work.

    Biographical details – Dr. Kennedy spent most of his career on heavy industrial projects in the fields of oil & gas, pipelines, electrical power generation and mining.  He has also lectured at universities on financial and project management. He has written two books and dozens of articles on the practical application of management theories, with special interest in how our own misperceptions often lead us down paths of fantasy.  

  • 29 Apr 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    Where you able to attend our recent webinar on ‘The Art and Science of Business Performance Management’? The webinar was provided by one of the world’s most renowned speakers on performance measurement, Professor Dr Umit Bititci of the Heriot Watt University, School of Management and Languages in Edinburgh (UK). We received some very positive feedback on the webinar and I must say I really enjoyed his presentation for many reasons as well.

    First, it was really interesting to see how he presented himself. The summary of his intro just sounded so familiar: ‘I started my career as an engineer, then became a manager, worked as a consultant for several years, and currently I am active as a researcher and scientist’. I couldn’t think of a better profile to address the various customer segments of ASEM: engineers, engineering managers, EM consultants and scientists.

    So no wonder that the core message of his presentation was completely aligned with the spirit of engineering management as it is reflected in our EM Body of Knowledge and EM Handbook. The science of business performance management can help you to develop the maturity of your organization’s performance measurement system. You could think of this as the technical dimension of performance measurement. The engineer inside of us really likes this dimension. The art of business performance measurement however, is to link the performance measurement system to a culture that stimulates empowerment and learning, versus a culture that simply uses measurement for better (read – ‘more’) command and control. This is the people dimension of business performance measurement which is really critical to achieve sustainable business results. Bring these two dimensions together and you will be surprised about what can be accomplished. I can’t think of a better way to promote ‘engineering – management’. This is what we need to do early in our careers when we manage a team of project specialists, what we further develop throughout our careers to become successful managers, and what we really focus on as leaders in a technology-oriented context.

    The other thing that I really liked about the webinar was its international character. Umit presented the webinar from his office in Edinburgh (UK), Gana Natarajan (our Communication Director) hosted it from his university in Oregon, I attended from a hotel room in Tallinn (Estonia), and some of the attendees included folks from our partners in China and Brazil. Amazing isn’t it? What a way to attract the attention of engineering managers around the world! As a result, we plan to do this more. We already identified speakers from China and Brazil that will talk about their experience as engineering managers of some amazing engineering projects. This will also allow us to seek balance on another dimension that is so important for our society: to share the best of theory and practice. This is a foundational principle of our constitution that only further grows in importance as we reach out to collaborate with other engineering societies around the globe.

    I want to thank Gana as well as Simon Philbin (our International Director) for their leadership on setting up these new international webinars. Engineering Management: People and Technology - Theory and Practice. Does it make sense to you too? Sad you missed the webinar? It is currently available for members on our website at – way to go ASEM!

    Geert Letens, PhD PEM
    ASEM President 2015-2016

  • 29 Apr 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    On behalf of the Board of Directors, it is my pleasure to announce that Paul Kauffmann will serve as the new Executive Director of ASEM!

    Paul graduated from Virginia Tech with degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering and worked for 21 years in industry, living and breathing engineering management. In the early 1990s, Paul earned his PhD in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University. He has been a member of the faculty at Old Dominion University and East Carolina University for most of his academic career. For the last four years, he has served as an ABET program evaluator. Paul’s profile is a clear match with the ambition of the society to serve as a bridge between engineering management theory and practice.

    Paul has done an outstanding job as ASEM’s Treasurer for the last three years. He was instrumental in relocating the World Headquarters from Rolla to Huntsville and facilitated the transition to ASEM’s new IT platform. As a current member of the executive team, Paul has been involved in shaping and executing ASEM’s current strategy to be the premier organization that advances, promotes and unites the engineering management profession worldwide. We have exciting times ahead of us. His first official day as the ASEM Executive Director will be June 1.

    This also means that on this day, Bill Daughton will pass the torch to Paul after more than eight years of service as the ASEM Executive Director. I would like to extend a special thank you to Bill for his devotion to the society, which has guided ASEM through many years of turbulence to a period of stability that has enabled us to focus on value, growth, and retention. Bill’s history of society service has been foundational for many critical decisions that we have undertaken to enhance products and services, increase productivity, and stimulate collaboration.

    Please join me in welcoming Paul to his new role for ASEM and expressing our appreciation to Bill for his many years of ASEM leadership!

    Geert Letens, PhD, PEM

    ASEM President


    Author: Paul Kauffmann, Upcoming ASEM Executive Director

    It is my honor to be a new member of the line of outstanding and revered ASEM Executive Directors. I hope I can partially live up to the standard of commitment and accomplishments they have set. I also want to express my thanks to the board for its vote of support and confidence in making this appointment.

    The transition with Bill Daughton is under way and will take place over the next few months as we work to get a new Treasurer into place. I am thankful to Bill that he plans to continue to be involved in the work of the society on special projects and as our source of corporate knowledge. We all owe Bill a big thank you for his years of leadership and service.

    This is an exciting time to become Executive Director since we have many opportunities ahead of us. My primary goal is to continue our progress to develop and build the “back office” capabilities to support the various activities, committees, and board member projects we need to move forward.

    Paul Kauffmann

    Upcoming ASEM Executive Director

  • 29 Mar 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    Newsletter March
    Le nouveau est arrivé! Many among you may recognize this French expression as the official annual kickoff of the race that eagers wine lovers around the world to take part in the traditional tasting of the year’s Beaujolais Nouveau. In the context of our society however, I would like to use this well recognized marketing slogan to encourage you to get a taste of the new editions of two core products of our society: the first annual book version of the ‘Engineering Management Journal’ (EMJ) and the fourth edition of our ‘Guide to the Engineering Management Body of Knowledge’ (EM BoK).

    As you may remember from previous newsletters, ASEM decided to partner with Taylor and Francis to publish EMJ in order to bring more visibility and recognition to our academic journal that during several decades already highlights the state of research and practices on the management of technology, technical professionals, and technical organizations. The partnership with Taylor and Francis provides ASEM members electronic access to all EMJ articles and allows them to use advanced search options to look for specific content. What is new however, is the book that most of you should have received by now that bundles all the knowledge from the EMJ articles of 2015. While I hope you will enjoy this new flavor of EM wisdom, I also want to encourage ASEM members to use the EMJ membership access on the ASEM Website and click ‘Alert me’ underneath the EMJ pictogram (this does imply that you register for Taylor and Francis Online) to continue to receive alerts when the new quarterly electronic edition of EMJ appears. It will allow you to stay tuned of all new recent developments in our field!

    At the same time, I am very happy to announce the official release of the fourth edition of our ‘Guide to the EM BoK’. As the EM BoK continues to serve as our fundamental repository of concepts, principles, procedures, and practices in the field of engineering management, the fourth edition incorporates important feedback and extensions from various practitioners and international contributors. I want to thank our editor Hiral Shah and co-editor Walter Nowocin for their work on these important additions that are in line with the international growth of the society.

    But there is more new wine coming to a theatre near you soon. During the recent Spring Board Meeting in Charlotte, the ASEM Board of Directors took two important decisions that certainly will further stimulate EM certification based on the EM BoK around the world. First, we agreed to start the translation of the EM BoK and the EM Handbook in Chinese and Portuguese, addressing a need brought forward both by our Chinese partners of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and our recently founded section of ASEM in Brazil. And second, and most important to our current members, we agreed to offer free electronic access to the EM BoK and EM Handbook for our professional members. We will send you specific information on how to gain access as soon as our IT specialists have addressed the technical details of this decision, but we hope you are as excited about this as we are – we strongly believe this allows ASEM to offer a very attractive value proposition for ASEM Membership: EMJ, EM BoK, EM Handbook, Practice Periodical, Webinars, newsletters, conference discounts,…
    This is a strong value package addressing the needs of both academia and industry. It results from our continuous efforts to speak for the engineering management profession around the world. Still we want to do better. And with your help, we know we can do better. Are you interested to contribute to our success? Just send me an email – we have several options for new active volunteers available!

    Geert Letens, PhD PEM
    ASEM President 2015-2016

  • 23 Feb 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous
    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    I have some good news to share. Over the last month the Board of Directors has approved two new exciting elements. First, we have been able to create an international section in Brazil. Fernando Deschamp, the first president of the section, has planned a kick-off event on February 24, 2016 to start working towards the achievement of the operational plan of the section. I will leave the honor to Fernando and his team to share pictures and details on their ambitions in the next newsletter.

    Along with the creation of this section, we have been able to celebrate our 100th professional international member. This is a remarkable achievement that certainly deserves a big thank you to Simon Philbin, our International Director, and Dave Wyrick, our Associate Executive Director, who over the last two years have been boosting our international efforts with the help of a highly committed team of international volunteers: Beth Cudney, Ben Baliga, Fernando Deschamps, Steve Wang and Alberto Sols.

    The second approval that sets another milestone for the society relates to the institution of an academic partnership program. This program that has been created under the guidance of Paul Kauffmann (ASEM Treasurer) and Ben Baliga (At-Large Director) provides a cost effective and simple approach to facilitate student membership registration and reduce the administrative load on faculty. This allows faculty to focus on what really matters - student value creation: providing students exposure to our standards and publications, access to webinars on current topics from research and practice, guidance for professional certifications, and last but not least, opportunities for student leadership. We believe that when you are running an EM program in your university, stepping into this partnership program is a must to support your ABET accreditation or ASEM program certification goals. But even if you are teaching EM introduction courses as part of other engineering programs, this partnership will be valuable for you, allowing engineering students from all orientations to experience the importance of engineering management in support of their career ambitions. Don’t hesitate to contact Bill Schell or Ona Egbue, our Membership and Associate Membership Directors, to find out details: they will be happy to set you up in no time!

    While our board is getting ready for its spring board meeting to assess progress and define priorities for the upcoming six months, I want encourage you to take some time in the next week to submit your abstract for the upcoming International Annual Conference in Charlotte. You will find the details in this newsletter through a link to the conference submissions website. The submission deadline (February 29, 2016) is coming up soon – don’t miss the opportunity to share your research and to continue the discussion about the future of engineering management. Our technical program team (Suzie Long, Ean Ng, Craig Downing and Bimal Nepal) have put together an impressive group of track chairs to assure a program that will ‘Energize Engineers’. Our conference hosts (Ertunga Ozelkan and Mike Ogle) are lining up prestigious keynote speakers and inspiring industry tours. They are looking into exciting options for social events at the motor speedway: wouldn’t that be cool!

    In short - ASEM is on the move – let’s continue to get connected!

    Geert Letens, PhD PEM
    ASEM President 2015-2016

  • 26 Jan 2016 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    I felt very fortunate this morning. Returning home from a conference on error management organized by the European School for Management and Technology - and yes of course, I did bring the ASEM flag - I had the opportunity to walk around for a couple of hours in Berlin, Germany.

    I just love to wander around in cities, especially early in the morning when there is hardly any traffic and only a couple of joggers running through the sceneries: discovering and admiring, but wondering too. About how it must have been to walk these same streets in the old days. You just have to return 50 years in history in Berlin to understand that things would have been completely different. There are plenty of symbols referring to ‘the wall’, reminding me that I simply wouldn’t have been able to follow this track that impressed with a few hundreds of years German history.

    People build walls to protect their properties – that is quite understandable. Defending our territory and our history is essential to preserve our identity. More so, we need to feel safe and secure before we can grow and develop. But cutting off systematically from the outside world is not a healthy option either. In fact, in a military context, isolating your enemy has often been a proven concept leading to surrender. To prevent this, we need bridges. To bring in food and energy, to enable trading of products and services, to seize new opportunities that can assure sustainable growth.

    Our society has a history and legacy to be proud of as well. So we have to protect this. As a result we will take the necessary steps in 2016 to protect our brand and our products. At the same time however, we need to develop more partnerships. When we are able to recognize the strengths of other organizations in order to match them with our core, we can achieve amazing results. Just look at the results of our partnership with Taylor and Francis for publishing the Engineering Management Journal. Better visibility for our authors, improved assistance for our editors, systemic screening of copyright violations, additional search options for our members. Submissions went up with 40% in one year, ASEM members get up to 20% discount on various Taylor and Francis books: value and growth – our past-president Gene Dixon can be proud. Thanks to Beth Cudney and Paul Kauffmann for setting up this partnership, thank you Toni Doolen and Eileen Van Aken for turning this relationship into a success story!

    Today in Berlin, the remaining part of the wall is a symbol that reminds us of a period of division and separation. Berlin itself however, has grown to become the symbol of successful unification. Let’s work together this year to develop more partnerships, creating opportunities for engineers around the world to connect and to benefit from our products and services. There are amazing things we can accomplish if we manage to preserve our core, but are willing to think win-win with our partners: a number one priority for our upcoming spring board meeting.
    Engineers sometimes are instructed to build walls. I tend to believe however, that in general, we prefer building bridges. Much more challenging, for sure, but when done well, also much more rewarding.

    I hope you had a wonderful end-of-year season. On behalf of the ASEM Board of Directors, I wish you a healthy and happy 2016. There is a lot to look forward to this year. Let me know if you want to contribute to our success.

    Let’s get connected!
    Geert Letens, PhD PEM
    ASEM President 2015-2016

  • 23 Dec 2015 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    ASEM Newsletter December 2015
    The world is changing – a statement from the previous newsletter that can count. Over the last month we have seen both good and bad of this change. In less than 30 days Paris has been the centre of the world twice. First, to remind us of our vulnerability against terror, and second, to share a strong message of hope on climate change. As I am writing this message, nearly 200 countries adopted a new climate agreement, expressing their willingness to contribute to the solution of a global problem that extends their national interests.

    This sets a stage for engineers and scientists to collaborate as never seen before. To develop new technology, to deliver massive projects of an unseen scale, to develop socio-technical systems that truly address global societal needs. Our society’s core knowledge centres on the integrated (technical, social, organizational) character of engineering management, and as a result, we can contribute to their success. More so, we need to contribute to their success.

    As has been pointed out by our previous president repeatedly, this implies the development of an ASEM strategy that focuses on both value and growth. While various board members and committee leaders are working hard to define by the end of the year the formal plans and objectives that will help us to move forward in this direction, I want to raise your curiosity by sharing a few promising details.
    • New membership options for engineering students and universities that sign up for a special partnership program.
    • New training materials that will set you up for AEM and PEM certification
    • A train-the-trainer program that will offer opportunities for certified knowledge providers around the world
    • Certification events, organized in collaboration with global partners throughout the year
    • Discounts for ASEM members and EMJ volunteers on books of the publisher of EMJ, Taylor and Francis.
    • A new edition of the EM Body of Knowledge as well as the update of the EM Handbook

    While I am sharing these examples of our continuous efforts towards improved value delivery, our society continues to grow around the world. ASEM has officially approved its first international section: please join me in welcoming the ASEM International Section Pakistan! As this section works towards the creation of a dedicated website to promote EM in their country, we are happy to share their enthusiasm in becoming the first global embassy of ASEM.

    So, how about you? Are you excited about the way we are taking? Do you want to join us on our mission for a better world through improved engineering management? Would you like to see ASEM being represented in your country? Let us know if you can think of organizations that we should partner with. Maybe you or any of your friends would like to know more about certification and training, or perhaps you even consider becoming a certified trainer?

    We really would like to hear from you - let’s get connected!

    Geert Letens, PhD PEM
    ASEM President 2015-2016

  • 15 Dec 2015 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Notice anything lately? As in the quiet? Eh, probably not. That's OK.

    You see, I haven't posted a blog in a while (nor has anyone else in ASEM). Further, it seems as if no one has noticed. That tells me that we're likely very busy or otherwise distracted. Simply put, if I haven't got something to share, I certainly don't think it's worth tearing you away from your activities.

    In the meanwhile I'll be working with Gana Natarajan to improve our communications stream. It's important to communicate, and it's also important to communicate well. With Gana at the helm, I'm excited to see the changes that come our way in the future.

    Enjoy December, don't work too hard, and be sure to let us know if there's a topic that we can explore with you. Your feedback goes a log way towards building better communication. ~ Trish

  • 24 Nov 2015 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Author: Geert Letens, ASEM President

    Our International Annual Conference in Indy was all about driving change, as it should be. The world is changing fast, and yet, more change is coming. According to Thomas Frey, Google’s top rated futurist speaker, humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history. There are tremendous challenges ahead of us: sustainability and climate change, the energy crisis, population explosion and changing societal demographics, and finding resources to feed 9 billion people. This is not just a burning platform – it rather looks like a burning ocean. More than ever, engineers will be needed to make a difference: failure is not an option. The good news is that they will be able to do what they are really good at: providing out of the box solutions for complex problems with stringent conditions.

    But to deal with tomorrow’s challenges, engineers will have to change, too. While over the next 20 years, two billion jobs may disappear, most of them are forecasted to come back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs (Thomas Frey, 2013). This implies the rise of a whole new development industry, allowing people to switch professions with less than 6 months of training and apprenticeship. Our society needs to be ready to support engineers to deal with these shifts throughout their career, providing them with the instruments and credibility (or, the knowledge and certifications, respectively) to be successful. While we do so, we will lay the foundation to accelerate the future.

    This future will be without any doubt international: future measures of relevance will be determined on a global scale. The signs of international collaboration are already clearly visible in our society. Almost 40% of authors in the Engineering Management Journal are international. At the conference in Indianapolis, five continents were represented, coming from 23 countries. In May, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Division of Engineering Management of the Chinese Academy of Engineering at the 9th Engineering Management Forum in Guangzhou. Currently we are very close to welcoming our first international sections of ASEM in Brazil and Pakistan. As your first truly international president, I look forward to further growing our international presence, and reaching out to other societies to co-organize engineering management events around the world.

    All this requires us to continue to refine our products and services and to focus on value delivery for all of our customer groups: academics and students, as well as practitioners in industry. Ideas are not lacking – on the contrary! That is why I want to take this opportunity to reach out to you. If you too acknowledge that the world is changing, and believe that engineers and engineering managers will be essential to make a difference, then consider joining our team. Of course I understand there still may be questions about ‘how’ and ‘what’, but if already we share the same ‘why’, I am sure we will be able to find the right way for you to contribute to a society that wants to accelerate the future of engineers around the world.
    Image credit:

    Let’s get connected!
    Geert Letens, PhD PEM
    ASEM President

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