Andrew Bond on ISA

From the July issue of Industrial Automation INSIDER (, Andrew Bond writes: ISA papers over the cracks Following last month's unscheduled departure of executive director Rob Renner, less than a year after his appointment,ISA seems to be adopting a "˜business as usual' policy and steadfastly ignoring the storm of criticism it has stirred up. First up was the announcement of "an extensive communications campaign designed to convey ISA's commitment to "˜set the standard' for the automation community", following research into the organization's role and how it could enhance its programs and better focus its activities. "ISA is committed to providing both relevant content and a sense of community to professionals working in discrete, process and batch communities," said ISA president Don Zee. "Our organization prides itself on inclusiveness in affording professionals access to the most credible and unbiased content, as well as opportunities to network with colleagues in a variety of physical and virtual venues." Surprisingly, given that the press release came some weeks after the announcement of his departure, Zee's comments were supported by quotes from Renner himself which, given some of the speculation about the reasons for his early resignation, may be read with a certain amount of wry amusement in some quarters. "ISA has a legacy of delivering useful tools and programs that serve as a strong foundation for the new ventures that the Society is currently pursuing," said Renner. "ISA is excited about the prospects of strengthening our flagship magazine, reinvigorating our conference programs, enhancing our unrivaled education programs, investing in our leading industry standards activities and expanding awareness for our professional certification activities, including the new Certified Automation Professional program." The society says that it expects to unveil a number of new initiatives over the next 12 to 18 months. Transition plan Meanwhile, it's trying to put the best face it can on Renner's departure, with the further announcement of the endorsement by the executive committee of a transition plan to replace him, targeting October for the announcement of the name of the new Executive Director. "We have outstanding leaders and seasoned directors and staff who are actively engaged in the process of managing ISA," said Zee. "I'm highly confident the transition will be seamless, because for months the organization has been moving forward with important improvements. I can't recall another time in our history when ISA has had so many positive initiatives at one time." There's no hint that Renner's departure might be anything other than cordial, with the man himself explaining the rationale behind his returning to the water business before embarking on a round of mutual backslapping. Thus Zee: "We were disappointed and tried unsuccessfully with others to convince Renner to continue his successful leadership of ISA, but we understood his passion for the water industry because ISA members also have a strong passion for the automation industry. . . I understand his motivation." Not to be outdone in the mutual admiration stakes, Renner replies: "Don's advice and counsel this year has played a pivotal role. Without it I don't think we could have put into place the many positive improvements slated for ISA." So that's all right, then.