Dr. de Vries, outgoing president of AES
by Steve Harvey.
In the face of the worst economic downturn in decades, one of the top priorities for outgoing AES President Dr. Diemer de Vries this past year was to strengthen the organization's bottom line.
"The economic developments were a very good reason to critically review all activities that cost money, and to look for new activities that generate money," explained de Vries, a Dutch academician and musician. "I think that this should frequently take place in every organization. Systems and procedures get old-fashioned and inefficient faster and faster, and should be updated regularly. So, you could say that the downturn had a positive effect on the realization of my goals."
Having previously been involved with the Netherlands Section of the AES, de Vries was something of a newcomer to the international organization. But he was a quick study, and his fresh perspective helped shake things up a little.
"Of course you have to learn a lot of facts, and of habits and traditions. On the other hand, since you are not biased by these habits and traditions, you can developed fresh initiatives, which of course will not be accepted immediately and automatically, and force you to formulate good arguments," he commented.
Turnout of convention exhibitors and attendees was impacted by the economy, of course. But, said de Vries, "The London convention last May—scaled down a little bit quantitatively—was of high quality and both visitors and exhibitors were quite satisfied. Also the three conferences this year were well attended, the recent one in Japan being the largest ever, with 200 participants!"
As for the future, de Vries notes that the direction of the AES is best steered democratically: "Initiatives should not only be developed by the president, but also by the Board of Governors. This is what will happen in San Francisco.
"I abandoned boring formalities from the Board meeting agenda as much as possible, making time available to make concrete plans for the Society's future. As a preparation for the final plenary Board meeting, the Board members will come together in smaller groups for brainstorming. I think this is the way to do it-involve more people in a discussion on the 'real things,' leading to concrete recommendations for a great future."