New Zealand-based Alice Chan has worked closely with the IET as a volunteer since 2001. She feels she has gained many transferable skills from this work, which has spanned the Auckland Young Professionals Section, the Membership and Regions Board, the Asia Pacific Regional Board and more recently the IET’s Board of Trustees.
“Through my involvement at different levels of the institution, I've learnt the importance of knowledge sharing, mentoring and helping others. The opportunities are always there to learn new skills while volunteering for the IET.”
Alice joined the IET (then IEE) as a student member back at university, but her active involvement in the organisation began in the early years of her career. She joined the Auckland Young Professionals Section (YMS) through introductions from her colleagues, some of which ran the group.
“The Auckland YMS has always been very active and I started getting more involved, helping to run events etc. From there I started to realise that there are a lot of benefits for me personally, such as personal growth, by being an active volunteer. I continued with my volunteering and eventually became the section’s chair for four years,” she explains. “In New Zealand, young professionals (YPs) are represented on the Local Network (LN) Committee and on the New Zealand Forum, and so as chair, I became heavily involved in the strategic and operational activities of these groups.
“Between 2004 to 2007, I joined the Membership and Regions Board,” she continues. “It was a huge learning curve at the beginning. I learnt a lot about the IET Board structures and functions, about the charity, and the inter-relationship between Boards, staff, volunteers and the membership.
“I was an elected Council member from 2008 to 2010. After the implementation of the new governance structure in 2009, I was appointed to the Asia Pacific Regional Board and more recently, elected to the Board of Trustees.
“This is a new role for me and as a trustee you are responsible for the governance of the IET. It has allowed me to see the IET a more strategic sense. There are a lot of different aspects involved in this role.”
Alice has lots of ideas she hopes to implement during her time as a trustee, many of which have come from her experience as a young professional and an international IET member.
Her aspirations for the IET are to strengthen the support for the volunteer networks and communities globally, ensure the right programmes are formulated to engage with students and young professionals, and build a solid foundation that will enable the institution to meet the future needs of membership as well as the engineering and technical professions.
With each new volunteering role Alice has been able to gain new skills and experiences that have enabled her to grow in the workplace.
“After about two or three years as the YP chair, actively organising events and YP programme and participating with LN events etc, it occurred to me that I had learnt and developed a number of soft skills, skills that I would not necessarily have been exposed to through work alone.
“The soft skills I have learnt from being an active IET volunteer have enabled me to be a better team player and contributor to my team. Through organising events, I learnt organisational and presentation skills. By participating on Boards, I learnt skills such as contributing and listening. By attending events, I learnt networking skills.”
“Through my involvement at different levels of the institution, I learn the important of knowledge sharing, mentoring and helping others.,” she continues. “The opportunities are always there to learn new skills while volunteering for the IET.”
Indeed, Alice is looking to gain a whole new set of skills through the work she will undertake in her latest role.
“The role of a Board of Trustee has given me further insights on how to run a charity, understanding governance, having a more strategic and outward looking view on things. It's all very exciting,” she concludes.