January / February 2018

Creating Member Value Through Innovation

Timothy P. Howard, PE


One of my key takeaways from the ISPE 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo is that as an industry, we need to focus on innovation. Keynote speakers from Pam Cheng and Roger Connor to Enno de Boer and Glenn Pierce reminded us that innovative thinking must come from outside our comfort zones, and stressed the importance of creating cultures that value innovation as much as caution.


Creating Member Value Through Innovation


ISPE is the healthiest it has been in a long while, thanks in large part to the stewardship of our volunteer and staff leaders across the organization. We continue to see positive indicators and trends on all key metrics.

Success in our major lines of business—conferences, training, and guidance documents—contributes to that stability and strengthens our foundation. Our key indicators are strong, and the growth of our reserve fund has created financial stability. Since 2013, ISPE has seen a 74% growth in assets, a 31% rise in investment reserves, and a 7.4% increase in revenue. Our recent annual meeting in San Diego was a huge success, with over 1,850 total attendees.

And that’s just what you can see. Behind the scenes there has been much work to improve your experience of ISPE. We continue to invest in new systems and technology to bolster our operational strength and improve our ability to serve members, communities of practice, affiliates, chapters, and operational committees.

This month, ISPE will add a new benefit that significantly increases the value of your membership: online access to our Good Practice Guides (GPGs). This library of 25 titles—a subset of the larger Guidance Document collection—encompasses a broad spectrum of highly applicable Guides, including Decommissioning, HVAC, and Operations Management. The GPGs were selected for this pilot effort because their content is critical to your daily work, providing the guidance you and your company need to succeed in our industry.


In last month’s editorial, I said that in addition to maintaining the momentum created by Past Chair Mike Arnold, I would also continue to drive implementation of the 2016–2019 strategic plan. The Board and I are confident this plan is sound. As we conducted a midpoint review, however, we realized that cell and gene therapy were also integral to our strategic direction and an important response to market needs. While we had included these topics in select conferences over the past year, we have now formalized them as part of our plan.

Vice Chair Jim Breen also plans to integrate cell and gene therapy in the upcoming Facilities of the Future conference (20–22 February) as an individual medicines track. The annual Quality Manufacturing conference (4–6 June) will have content in this area as well. And that’s just North America!

In addition, I have begun a conversation with Jim about what’s important for the coming year. We want to find ways to enhance member value by feeding the Young Professionals pipeline, supporting the growth and promotion of Women in Pharma, and focusing on facilities of the future.


We also want to increase our geographic footprint. ISPE has a business model that has served its members well, largely in the United States, Europe, and Asia. But there are unmet needs in Africa and Middle East, as well as developing nations in Asia and South America. We have a tremendous body of knowledge that others would love to access—in fact, they need it. So I am happy to report that with the support or our CEO and Executive Council I will work with a small task team to explore and identify alternative business models that will allow us to serve those markets. Whether it’s partnering with other societies or coming up with different delivery mechanisms, we will start with a blank sheet of paper and a problem statement and create a solution. This is an important initiative for me.

The next couple of months will be quite busy as we prepare for the Facilities of the Future conference in Bethesda, Maryland; the Aseptic Conference (6–7 March) in Reston, Virginia; and the Europe Annual Conference (19–21 March) in Rome, Italy. I will be attending each of these events and look forward to the conversations we will share.