Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Life as an AGI Council Member

Abigail Page, AGI Council member
With the call for nominations to AGI Council for 2014 open, Chris has asked me to write a guest blog this week about being a member of AGI Council – so here it goes!

Standing for Election

I have been involved with AGI for a number of years, firstly as a regular member and delegate at AGI GeoCommunity conferences, then with the AGI Environment SIG and the AGI Scotland Committee.

At the AGI GeoCommunity 2012, Andy Coote suggested gently that I should consider standing for Council. I spent a long time thinking about this (probably a bit too long since I then had to rush to get my form in on time!) and speaking to some other council members, the AGI team and my employer about the level of commitment required before putting myself forward. The process is very straightforward and there is more information on the AGI website.

Council Meetings & Key Tasks

Council meet a minimum of 5 times a year at AGI HQ in London. It can be a long day (particularly including a round trip from Edinburgh!) but it is a great opportunity to catch up with  other Council members and really important that we all have this time to consider AGI business away from our day jobs.

In addition to directing the strategy of the AGI, there is a requirement for Council members to support regional groups and SIGs and to provide an additional resource and operational support to the AGI team. During 2013 I have been involved in the organisation of Showcase Events and the Council Marketing group. Our marketing and communication activities have taken a big step forward this year, including the successful appointment of Chris, and I am confident that you will start to notice positive changes in the coming months if you haven't already.

Being a Representative

Of course being a Council member isn't just about attending meetings and providing operational support – it is also about being available to members and the wider community as a representative of both AGI and AGI Council.

The AGI team are small and do an excellent job with the limited resource they have – but this is not enough to grow AGI and maintain a strong membership and voice in UK GI.  With being elected to council comes an expectation to perform the role of an AGI  and UK GI Ambassador. From my own perspective, this has included being visible and present at UK events, speaking actively about the role of the AGI and looking to engage and collaborate with other organisations that share our views on the role of geospatial and geography in the UK.

However, I would like to add a note that this is a role that all AGI members can play, whatever your role in the industry. We need you to be ambassadors for the AGI and GI – AGI members play a vital role in the UK GI industry and together we can have immense reach and drive forwards our collective desires and ambitions.
Spot me at State of the Map 2013 – the Disadvantages of being Vertically Challenged (Image: Chris Fleming)

Time Juggling & The Benefits

Where do I find time volunteer as an AGI Council member? Jo Cook mentioned the term “task-management ninja” in her blog post summing up experiences of organising FOSS4G and I can really relate to this as I suspect can most of my Council colleagues.

I am lucky to have a patient husband and family in addition to a supportive employer that recognise the value of my AGI input to my own professional development and the benefits to Central Scotland Forest Trust (CSFT) as an organisation. Without this support and flexible working arrangements, it would be difficult to keep my Council commitments and this is why I would really recommend having these discussions openly before you stand for Council.

Yes, it is a lot of hard work, but I am not a selfless person. Of course, I believe in a strong UK GeoCommunity and the AGI, but if I were not getting something back from my involvement then I wouldn't be doing it. It is incredibly personally satisfying to have direct input into shaping the AGI.

Post- Council Team Networking
During the last nine months on Council I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most influential and inspiring members in our GeoCommunity. I have developed a wide range of skills and experience as a Council Member and Director that have been incredibly useful elsewhere. It has raised my own professional profile and influenced the way that I work in addition to bringing forward new ideas and opportunities for CSFT as we develop and realise the Central Scotland Green Network. Finally, being involved in AGI Council and working as part of a great team with shared ambition is immense fun!

So, that's it (I hope this is what you wanted Chris!). If I haven't put you off please consider standing for election either this year or some point in the future. Get in touch with any of us on Council or the AGI Team if you need any further information. Remember that there are many other ways to support the AGI and get involved – SIGs & Regional Groups always welcome able and enthusiastic volunteers, and it is up to all of us to be AGI and industry Ambassadors and develop our strong GeoCommunity.

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