The Value of Trust

July/August 2018

NSPE Today: Outlook
The Value of Trust


MICHAEL AITKEN, P.E., F.NSPE, 2018–19 PRESIDENTAs we approach the dawn of another NSPE year, we are invited to look back upon the year we are about to leave in order to celebrate our success, reflect upon our challenges, and move into the future with a renewed sense of value. In my own self-reflection on our great achievements as a Society, I see a renewed opportunity to build trust among one another at all levels, from the national board to our eminent state chapters, to our more than 26,000 dedicated members. But trust is not something that is to be requested; it is something to be earned.

As hotelier Horst Schulze said, “In life and business, relationships are important—but they are empty unless they are established and based upon trust.”

As our Society grows and thrives, so too must our ability and willingness to work together in trusting relationships. It is as valuable that our members trust their local, state, and national leadership to proceed down the right paths and make the most prudent decisions on their behalf as it is that our leadership trusts our members to continue to live, work, and create in a way that reflects NSPE’s values.

The 2017–18 year has brought us an entirely new way of doing business. President Tom Roberts, the executive committee, the board of directors, national staff, and the Membership Model Task Force have been very diligent in preparing for the implementation of this new membership model, which kicked off on July 1, 2018. Since the July 2017 NSPE House of Delegates’ 81–10 vote in support of the new model, we have been working hard to make sure the services available to our members were ready for the July 2018 implementation date.

Now that the date has arrived, it is important to reflect on our founder David Steinman’s thoughts on integration from 1935: “For successful accomplishment of a professional society, unity and geographical organization are the essentials. The National Society, the state societies, and the county chapters are closely and reciprocally integrated, and all are regarded of equal importance. Membership in one involves membership in all.… This is the logical and essential form of organization for building a united and integrated engineering profession.”

To integrate our Society into a member-centric organization, it is important that we strive to increase the trust among us all at this point, more than ever. As we face the challenges ahead of us, from the new member model to state legislation that threatens the PE license, it is crucial that we are able to approach them with a unified front, built upon our faith in one another. We must be like a Greek phalanx, raising our shields to protect both ourselves and those around us and finding our strength in our ability to rely upon, and be relied upon by, others. Yet just like the phalanx, if we cannot trust one another, the line breaks and we fall.

Building such an environment of trust does not simply mean believing in one another and believing in the Society—it takes personal action on a daily basis. Our interactions can promote the agenda of trust, from maintaining respect in our discussions and interactions, to remaining reliable to one another. It means holding one another accountable, making yourself heard by the leadership, and respecting one another.

But we shouldn’t strive only for a more trusting environment within NSPE; as a Society we must also continue gaining the trust and confidence of the public. Our actions as professional engineers affect NSPE and the public image of the Society. As a professional organization, we must cultivate our relationship with the public to show that we are both relevant and important to society, and to prove that the title “PE” means something.

At the end of the day, we are one NSPE. The national and state boards would not exist without the support and trust of the members, and we would not have come this far without the leadership being able to rely upon our members. As the 2017–18 administrative year concludes, we look forward to the future. I sincerely hope that future is one where our members continue striving for excellence, building the NSPE brand, and fostering respect for one another, culminating in a Society where we should, can, and do trust one another. As NSPE’s president for 2018–19, I am committed to providing my service to the Society with the utmost respect and cooperation.