AES Prez Kaiser Reflects on the Past Year

Jim Kaiser, the outgoing AES president, started his oneyear term vowing to improve communication between everyone involved with the organization.
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Jim Kaiser, the outgoing AES president, started his oneyear term vowing to improve communication between everyone involved with the organization. One year on, with some help from social media and a little more work than he had originally envisioned, Kaiser has achieved his goal.

Time flies when you are the AES president. “My year as president has gone by very quickly, and it has been a very interesting one for me, and for the Audio Engineering Society,” comments Kaiser, adding a word of appreciation: “I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the membership, my colleagues on the Board and on the AES staff, and the convention committees for their tireless effort this year to create a better AES.”

Jim KaiserOf course, the economy has been a challenge. “While AES membership continues to grow steadily, we have struggled with the realities of a world economy that is not very forgiving. We have made some difficult choices in order to reduce our cost of operation, while still working to maintain the level of activity and support that our members expect and deserve. This has included staff reductions, and outsourcing of necessary services, in order to keep these costs within our means.”

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There was also a big change involving one of the organization’s public faces. In August, the AES announced that executive director Roger Furness would be leaving his post in 2012 after 17 years, and that an independent search committee had been formed to find a suitable replacement. “This professional will be expected to anticipate and be responsive to the needs of the membership, provide consistent interaction with all constituencies, and will be tasked with improving the financial health of the society,” says Kaiser. “We are confident that the right individual is ready to step in, and help to initiate and carry out new ideas that will raise the AES to new heights.”

The fact that the AES is an international organization makes the financial picture complex, says Kaiser. Nevertheless, “This year, we have been in the process of reviewing all financial operations in order to protect our members’ interests. More detailed information will be available to our members in the near future, in addition to the info already published in the December Journal. The goal is to maintain a transparent operation that is appropriate to our mission.“

Kaiser has worked hard this past year to improve communications, internally and externally. That has included increased communication amongst the Board of Governors. “Traditionally, the Board meets only once per year, at the fall convention, which only allows for limited opportunity to work together directly on planning for the future,” he explains.

In order to promote internal discussion, Kaiser set up a secure blog forum. “The forum is a much better way [than traditional email] to keep track of what has been said. We need to be able to know what each other is doing and saying about things and to properly respond when it’s needed,” he notes.

As for outward-facing communication, he also launched a public blog via ProSoundNetwork.com, entitled “AES Viewpoints.” He says, “There’s a lot going on already with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and so forth. This adds another layer.” The blog exposes some of the inner workings of the organization to a larger audience, even beyond the AES membership. “The goal is to encourage even greater involvement by our members in areas that they did not yet appreciate.”

The new initiative complements the work of a former AES president: “I applaud Jim Anderson for his personal initiative to encapsulate the vast reserves of AES historical documentary into the highlights that have been available directly to your phone, called AES Audio Experts: On Your Mobile Device and on the Web.”

Convention exhibitors are a key element of support for the organization, observes Kaiser, who has set a meeting for the first day of the 131st Convention. “We can all walk in together and know how to help each other out through the next several days. I think that’s going to help make the convention more successful for them.” Exhibitors will also be encouraged to express their ideas for the planning of future events, he adds.

As for future plans, he hints, “We have some exciting new ideas about what’s going to happen in Europe, in our organizational relationships, and also possible future convention locations.” AES has just announced that the 2012 spring convention will be in April in Budapest, Hungary.