IAPMO’s Future Starts With Us
One of the oldest clichés I hear in my daily duties as an inspector and going back to the days when I was working with the tools is “This is the way we’ve always done it.” Other variations include “Don’t reinvent the wheel” and “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.” And while I’m the first to admit that “tried and true” is essential in our work, especially where it concerns best practices toward ensuring health and safety, I am also fully aware that this attitude and thought process must change when it comes to the future of our association.
If IAPMO is to continue to grow and thrive, the way we’ve always done it isn’t cutting it any longer. I’m talking specifically about the difficulties in replacing a retiring workforce and refilling our ranks with the younger professionals who will lead IAPMO into our second century of existence. Our future Board of Directors, committee members, and chapter leaders are right now at universities, trade schools, UA apprentice programs, and/or already working in the trades alongside us. You and I well understand the mutual benefits shared by IAPMO and its members, but a great many of our millennial counterparts do not.
What I do know is that our Board and IAPMO staff are dedicated to doing all we can to promote and recruit, not only for our organization but the industry as a whole. As president, you’ve entrusted me with stewardship of this venerable association; I believe that includes leaving it in better shape than when it was entrusted to me. To that end, here are some of the steps we’ve undertaken recently to promote outreach to younger members:
IWSH Scholarship Essay Competition
The recent creation of IAPMO’s International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH) provided a perfect opportunity to merge our annual Scholarship Essay Competition with the foundation’s mission. This year’s topic, “How would you promote the IWSH projects and what slogan would you use to do so?” engaged young people worldwide to examine IWSH’s work and suggest familiar avenues through which the foundation might become more recognized and appreciated.
The Millennial generation in general seems very conscious of protecting our environment, displaying activism and concern toward Climate Change and the future problems our world is expected to face regarding water scarcity and the ongoing plague of unsanitary conditions in developing nations. I see through my own children and other young people by whom I’m surrounded that their generation cares much more than my own when it comes to volunteer work, outreach, and trying to make a difference. I’d like to see IAPMO tap into that altruistic spirit as it meshes so well with our association’s mission.
Strategic Scholar Podcast
In February, I appeared on the Strategic Scholar Podcast, hosted by Kristy Sturgill, to discuss the IWSH Scholarship Essay Competition. This podcast, which teaches students how to find and apply for scholarships efficiently and learn how to strategically handle a higher education investment without significant amounts of student loan debt, has been around about a year. I spoke with Ms. Sturgill about IAPMO and IWSH, how the essay competition came together, and encouraged students to enter.
The podcast is free to listen to on iTunes. I appeared on episode 50. You can listen by directing your web browser here.
As you’ve no doubt heard and have hopefully become active participants, IAPMO has stepped up its presence in social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and Instagram, attempting to engage with our members and industry allies with more immediacy and interactive ability. Social media represents a huge opportunity to connect with the next generation of plumbing and mechanical professionals while enhancing our communications outreach via every possible channel.
I have taken the plunge myself and invite you to follow me on Twitter @IAPMO_Pres. I know the first instinct many of us “old timers” have when we see young people seemingly ignoring the world around them in favor of whatever their thumbs are typing away at on their phones, but that is how they communicate today; if we hope to reach them, we need to embrace their modes, not cling stubbornly to ours.
World Plumbing Day
IAPMO staff once again took the message of World Plumbing Day to school children both here and abroad, enlightening impressionable young minds with the unsung deeds of the humble plumber. Emphasizing the importance of clean water and sanitation among children is one of the best ways to ensure our association and industry remain active and relevant long into the future.
You don’t need to wait for March 11, however, to spread the word about plumbing or IAPMO. Each day offers an opportunity for outreach. Are you doing all you can to court the next wave of plumbing and mechanical professionals that will one day fill our shoes? If not, please join me in stepping out of comfort zones and engaging in new forms of communication. IAPMO and our industry will no doubt be better off for the effort.