From the Chief Executive

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07 / 11 / 2017

At the Microbiology Society’s Annual General Meeting in September, Council set out its plans for the next five years. While the new strategy builds on recent successes, it recognises that if microbiology is to bring maximum benefit to the public, we will need an ever-greater level of ambition. The unique depth and breadth of knowledge and experience of the members is a massive resource, and the Society’s role is to help unlock and harness the potential of that knowledge.

The strategy has been developed in wide consultation with members, Committees, staff and a range of other friends and partners. One of the most important and fascinating parts was defining the Microbiology Society’s values – the ways in which we behave that make the Society special. All of us have different ways of expressing how we feel about an organisation, and the consultation threw up literally hundreds of words to describe the Society! But in the end, they came down to three key features – we are welcoming, transparent and dedicated. In practice, the first of these means that our reputation as a friendly, nurturing and approachable community is extremely important. Being transparent means, among other things, that we value evidence and expertise, both when Council, Committees or staff are making decisions about the Society’s own activities and also in the wider world of policy and public life. The third value expresses a commitment to our charitable aim of advancing microbiology, and ensuring that all our resources are applied to that end.

In terms of what the Society will try to achieve over the next five years, the key feature of the new strategy is to put the members at the centre of everything we do. It is your knowledge and experience that gives the Society its legitimacy and authority, and it is the networks and connections that are fostered within the membership that help us to unlock the potential of that knowledge.

There are three objectives in the new plan. The first is about enabling members to strengthen existing networks and develop new ones. The second concentrates on championing the contribution made by members in addressing the world’s challenges. The third objective emphasises the need to guarantee sustainability so that the Society can continue to play an important role into the future.

Collapsed into a single sentence, the new strategy document says: 

In the five years between 2018 and 2022, the Society’s principal goal is to develop, expand and strengthen the networks available to our members so that they can generate new knowledge about microbes and ensure that it is shared with other communities.

Of course, we will achieve this in part through the same traditional activities that the Society has pursued effectively for seven decades, such as organising world-class conferences and publishing the highest quality scientific papers. But having spent the past few years improving the mechanisms by which members drive the Society’s direction, we are now able both to make these long-standing programmes more responsive to your needs, and to develop new ways of helping you to advance your careers.

The strategy expresses the reason the Microbiology Society exists in a simple statement:

When the discipline of microbiology is strong and intellectually vibrant, we have a better chance of finding solutions to these problems, and building a healthier, more sustainable and more prosperous future.

To play our fullest part in making this happen, two sets of people need to be engaged in our success – the staff and the members. We are lucky to have a fantastic group of energetic and professional staff to complement the skills and knowledge of the membership. Together, by focusing on our own unique strengths, we can make a real difference. So please let me know how you want to see the Society develop over the coming years, the opportunities that you see ahead, and how you think we can work together to grasp them.

The strategy can be found on the Microbiology Society website.

Peter Cotgreave

Chief Executive