The Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA International (www.mesa.org) has been a part of my career for nearly a decade. It began with my then boss suggesting I volunteer to be on the Technical Committee of this global community of manufacturers, producers and solution providers focused on improving manufacturing operations management capabilities through the effective application of technology. I became the chairman of the Technical Committee a year later, and have held that role ever since.
During that time, I have participated in the authoring and reviewing of a variety of MESA content. As chair, I have tried to build some structure and maintain some sense of organization with an ever-changing group of individuals, representing talent across a broad spectrum of industry. Through my service there, I’ve met and worked with people who are considered experts in their respective fields. I wonder how many of these folks would have crossed my path without MESA.
At the beginning of his term, the current chairman of MESA’s board of directors called me and asked if I value my participation in the organization. His question caught me a bit off guard, as I figured it was clear that I saw value. Nonetheless, his question made me pause and think. I realized that I’ve actually asked myself the question many times in the last decade—sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. I think it’s true of everyone who participates in a similar organization. Like all of those people, I constantly have to prioritize my efforts. Inevitably, the paying job takes precedence, and the “association work” is assigned a lesser priority. When time allows, though, I give MESA a few cycles. I feel an instant reward from that effort.
Aside from the obvious sense of accomplishment, there’s another reward—most of my MESA work takes shape as some form of publication. Today, so much fights for our attention. Ironically, with the abundance of social media, which is supposed to empower the individual publisher, we find ourselves awash in too much information. The signal-to-noise ratio is very low, and we are left wondering what to believe and what is really important. We turn inevitably to respected and established organizations and publications. Establishment infuses the work with credibility. When you pick up a copy of this magazine, for example, you know that it’s been around, and its publisher has at least enough of a reputation to attract advertisers and readers.
It’s the same way with MESA. Reading a MESA work, even if you disagree with the concepts, you know that there’s a certain amount of merit to them—granted, through nothing more than the MESA name at the top. Behind the scenes, I can tell you all about the review process that we’ve worked hard to build and implement over the years. I can talk proudly about how all MESA content is screened for commercialism and bias. In the end, MESA entrusts its valuable brand to this process, and readers know that a
MESA publication deserves more mindshare than a Tweet from a random individual.
MESA’s authors and reviewers know that their materials will be regarded in this way, and hopefully all feel a sense of pride and reward as a result.
A few months ago, I presented to a class of college juniors and seniors. As part of the presentation, I was asked to share my advice about how to navigate the corporate world after college. I brought up MESA and urged the students to participate in a similar industry association.
I told them that such organizations give individuals a platform on which to stand, and from which to differentiate themselves. I find it fitting that “mesa” is the Spanish word for “table.” MESA truly has been the table on which many have stood in order to help define and shape our industry. I’m honored to be among them.
Engineering Skills, Is Writing One of Them? Find out why writing is an integral part of the job description for today’s engineer. Visit bit.ly/awfeat057