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Report by Michael J. Neve to IEEE NZ North Section Committee on 9/10/2008

Michael Neve attended the 2008 IEEE Sections Congress which was held from 19-22 September 2008 in Quebec City, Canada. This document is intended to give an overview of events, which are summarised in the Programme:

IEEE Sections Congress 2008 Programme

Further information can also be found at:

Day 1 - Friday 19 September (Region 10 Meeting and Region Caucus)

Region 10 Meeting

A meeting of Region 10 was held in the morning, in a style similar to the 'standard' Region 10 meetings.

Region Caucus

A document summarising the issues in descending order of priority was circulated at the start of the meeting:

Region 10 Caucus

Of interest here was Item 12 which was suggested by the NZ North Section for consideration and which stated "IEEE should devise a mechanism to arrest exchange rate fluctuation. At present the entire burden of exchange rate fluctuations falls on the sections outside the US. The rebate component of the membership dues should be fixed at some nominal value in the local currency."

It was therefore somewhat disappointing to note that this issue did not make the top 7 list. I believe it was number 8.

The issue of finance and rebates was nonetheless raised at the start of the meeting by a member of the Australian contingent. Having what was essentially Issue 12 raised right at the start of the meeting was very useful, and I made sure to add my voice regarding exchange rate issues to the overall discussion. Overall, I got the feeling that there was some considerable acceptance of our viewpoint. It was decided that Issue 1 would be forwarded to the Issues Caucus after some rewriting to incorporate the feeling of the meeting, but I was not involved in this process. The issues finally forwarded to the Issues Caucus by Region 10 were 1, 5, 6 and 8.

Day 2 - Saturday 20 September (Core Training and Breakout Sessions)

Core Training Sessions

These were run by members of the MGAB (Members and Geographic Activities Board) and were led by the Chair MGAB Joe Lillie. (Note that MGAB has replaced RAB). This was a very well organised series of presentations. Key ideas: MGA Vision - Ensure Quality Member Opportunities for Continuous Engagement, MGA Mission - Inspire, Enable, Empower and Engage Members of IEEE for the purpose of

  • Fulfilling the mission of IEEE
  • Enhancing the members' growth and development through their life cycle
  • Providing a professional home

Bookmarks were provided to try and remind everyone of the core role of MGA (see MGA Bookmarks ).

Copies of the presentations can be found here:

MGA - Focusing on the Member
MGA Direction and the Section Leaders
MGA Member Engagement and Beyond

Breakout Sessions

1 - The Benefits of Membership (Retention Strategies)


2 - IEEE Section Value and Communication Through Web 2.0


This presentation discussed the use of blogs, communities, wikis etc to enhance communication with members.

3 - Create Successful Teacher In-Service Programs in Your Section


We need to follow this one up - it was decided at the NZ Council Meeting that we could/should coordinate some sort of initiative here.

IEEE Honors Ceremony

This was a very enjoyable event. The IEEE Medal of Honour was presented to Gordon Moore.

Day 3 - Sunday 21 September (Breakout Sessions and Issue Caucuses)

Breakout Sessions

4 - Section Financial Management Relationship with IEEE Business Processes

14-Anderson-Financial Management.pdf

5 - Introducing VTools and How to Enhance the Volunteer Experience


These tools have considerable potential in allowing us to easily manage meeting notifications (including AUTOMATIC submission of L31s), as well as voting and ultimately finance. WATCH THIS SPACE!

6 - Strategic Planning - How to Incorporate the IEEE and MGA Vision at the Local Level

19-Hirt-Jensen-Section Strategy.pdf

All attendees were requested to outline one major challenge facing their Sections at this session, and accordingly I pointed out our financial concerns.

Issues Caucus

All delegates at this time were requested to select one of the Issues Caucuses as outlined in the document:

Issues Caucus Summary

Given my stance at the R10 Caucus I elected to attend the Business/Financial Operations Caucus which had 6 issues to discuss/debate and reduce to 3 to be forwarded to the Sections Primary Delegate vote.

Given the interest expressed at the R10 caucus it was surprising that only three members of R10 were in attendance! (myself, and representatives from ACT (Australia) and Vietnam). Representatives from the nominating regions were asked to speak to their relevant issues, so I took it upon myself to raise the rebate issue as part of the original issue 1 as forwarded from the R10 Caucus. I feel this was worthwhile as senior people in MGA now know about our plight!

Evening - IEEE NZ Council Meeting

Details to follow.

Day 4 - Monday 22 September (Voting)

The following list was provided to all Section Primnary Delegates:

Issues for Voting/Prioritisation

The voting was performed electronically, and it was pleasing to see that the issue I had a major part in crafting was ranked second in the overall list! This is the final list in decreasing order of priority:





Member Benefits

Every member to have an annual entitlement to a limited number of free IEEE Xplore downloads.


Business/Financial Operations

Payment Flexibility - Members, especially students and those in developing countries who do not have credit cards, need flexible payment methods

  • regardless of location and banking methods
  • supporting aggregated payments in local currency.
  • minimizing transaction costs and processing overheads.


Member Growth & Development

Provide "Leadership Training Handbook (Text and Multimedia) for Section Officers" to include: Volunteer Recruitment, Roles & Responsibilities of Section Chair and Section Committee, Presiding at Meetings, Documentation - Websites & Forms, Time Table for Elections & other formal IEEE Required Activities, and Transfer of Responsibilities to incoming officers.


IT Operations

The MGA Board to assign staff to develop, a user-friendly system and support to enable Sections, Chapters and Affinity Groups to deliver, at low cost, teleconferencing, collaborative technologies, and webinars as a free member benefit.


Member Growth & Development

For digital libraries: develop additional, smaller tiered packages (10, 20 items, etc.) which allow members to purchase defined quantities of digital content without expiration. Provide members permanent electronic access to previously purchased content.



Improve the implementation of recommendations identified at Sections Congress.


Member Benefits

There are a good number of IEEE member benefits that are relevant or accessible to Regions 1 - 6 members only. IEEE should implement similar benefits of local relevance across all Regions.


Business/Financial Operations

Sections and chapters need a web-based payment solution for small local events that is:

  • Low cost
  • Secure and immediate
  • Capable of depositing into a concentration banking account or international equivalent with event and payer identification


IT Operations

Provide support and tools for the creation and maintenance of easy to update Section web sites with "single sign-on" authentication via IEEE web accounts featuring at least blogs, meeting calendars and member surveys. Use commonly available, best practice technologies not requiring programmer support for day to day use.



Implement Sustained Membership options for all membership grades exclusive of student grade:

  • Single dues payment for multiple years/life-long membership;
  • Increasing benefits in proportion to the length of renewal.
  • Lowers IEEE administrative expenses related to "annual" membership cycles.

(This list has been published on the main IEEE website at

Final Comments

Overall I feel reasonably satisfied with my ability to get our particular concerns across. Although recommendation 2 does not explicitly deal with exchange rate issues I feel that at least the idea has been planted in the minds of the MGAB so hopefully we stand a better chance at future Sections Congresses should this still remain a relevant issue to us.

I feel also that there is much to be gained from the MGA philosophy, and would advise all of our section members to familiarise themselves with the online documentation. Other items which will need to be followed up include:

  • The Teacher In-Service Programme
  • vTools
  • Concentration Banking (already in use by NZ South - should we revisit?)
  • Next year (2009) is the 125th of the IEEE. Sections have been asked to run events as part of the celebration.
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