Introducing Tajinder Panesor, one of your board members
I’ve been working at the Institute of Physics, the professional body and learned society for physics, since March 2000, when I took up a role with the science policy team. In July 2014 I became the Head of International and became responsible for international affairs.
In June 2016, I took on responsibility for the valued-based offer, recruitment and engagement, and the provision of careers and CPD resources in support of the professional development of members, as the Head of Member Services. This role coincided with a major change programme where we reviewed our membership categories, fees regime, and redefined the value-based offer. As of July 2018 I took on additional responsibility for membership administration, and professional registration and progression, and I’m currently employed as the Head of Membership, where I’m overseeing a team that is adapting to a new CRM, using digital platforms as a means to engage members, and running campaigns to recruit early career physicists, attract more females into fellowship, promoting our professional registers, and better engaging with physicists based in industry.
At the IOP, we often talk about a 'right-sized' membership, where we aim to truly engage with our members, rather than growth for growth's sake (not that I don’t want to increase the number of members across our new, reduced set of categories). We want as many of our membership to be actively involved with our programmes and activities and that is something that I would seek for the IAL.
Earlier this year, the IOP launched its new five-year strategy, Unlocking the Future, to help transform the physics landscape for the UK and Ireland, and ensure a thriving physics ecosystem that will contribute to innovation, discovery, research, growth and debate in the UK, Ireland and beyond.
The strategy focuses on three major, interconnected challenges:
Diversity and skills: we need to ensure that our physics community reflects the diversity we observe in society, in its broadest sense. Additionally, we need to gather evidence to better understand what skills sets will be needed in the future; anecdotally, we understand that employers are demanding more people with technical skills.
Unlocking potential: this challenge will look to address the UK and the ROI government targets of increasing investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP and 2.5% of GNP, respectively; we will also have an important role to encourage investment to realise these targets from both the public and private sectors.
Public dialogue: whilst we have always valued the importance of public engagement via our programmes, our plans in the new strategic period are to take a radically different approach leading to 10% of the population having a meaningful engagement with physics, and, of those, 1% continuing to remain engaged.
As well as developing significant programmes that will help to meet these challenges, the IOP is also launching a £10 million ‘challenge fund’ that will seek to identify, and fund, projects with partners who share these ambitions and who can help to accelerate change.
Even though this Strategy is more externally focused than the previous one, the challenge of engaging and supporting our membership base remains a high priority.
My vision for a successful, contemporary membership organisation is based on the need to engage with the next generation of members by empowering them to take ownership of their engagement opportunities, one that is open and inclusive to a broader community, and one that balances modern trends in digital with the traditions associated with organisations that support the professional development of members.
One of the major programmes of work for 2020 will be the introduction of mandatory CPD for all holders of our professional registers such as Chartered Physicist. Our professional registers are a mark of commitment and professionalism – and are rapidly becoming vital prerequisites for continued employability.
Therefore, ensuring that holders of a register maintain their professional skills is of paramount importance to not only maintain the integrity of the registers, but to support members to ensure their skills and competences are up-to-date enabling them to both have successful careers and make invaluable contributions to society through science and innovation.
Finally, as for me, I believe I have found my ‘home’ in membership and feel more comfortable in this space than I did, say, within science policy. Being a board member for the IAL is something which I am extremely proud of and I thank Lee and co. for showing their faith in me as an aspiring leader for the future – near future, as I hope to realise my ambitions of becoming a director/CEO sooner rather than later.