Backstage Performance

01 November 2017 - By: Paul Hutchinson

Backstage Performance

Paul Hutchinson (landscape)


By Paul Hutchinson

Those of you who are keen readers of the Bulletin will notice that the editorial is usually written by Sarah Blackford. Sarah left SEB at the end of July and I would like to thank her for her contribution to SEB over many years. My writing style is neither as fluent nor as fluid as Sarah’s and for that I apologise in advance. However, I shall be leaving the SEB in the near future so this editorial will not only be my first editorial but also my last. 

I’ve had the privilege of being CEO for nearly seven years and SEB is the most recent of the membership organisations in which I have worked. At the SEB I have initiated, or been part of, many changes which I hope have improved the performance of the organisation and the way it delivers services to you our members, our most valuable asset.

The improvement in performance began in 2010 when SEB moved from its office in Southampton to Charles Darwin House (CDH) in London. The move marked willingness for SEB to work with other Societies in a spirit of collaboration and mutual support.

During my time with SEB we have: established a robust risk register and put in place processes to mitigate against risks; outsourced our finance functions to reduce costs and to enable SEB staff to be focused on service delivery; developed a new membership database to automate the joining, renewal and Annual Meeting registration processes and to enable us to understand how members use our services. SEB and the other Societies based in CDH also invested in another property which is currently generating income for the Society through tenant rental income and diversifies our income streams.

Our achievements have not been only internal. In the last three years, we have developed the content of the SEB Bulletin to feature more about member activities and to focus on key developments in science. We have launched a new brand, a new website, and expanded the activities of the SEB+ Section with groups focusing on Equality & Diversity, Careers, Science Communication, and Teaching and Learning. SEB built collaborations with the American Physiological Society and our collaboration with the American Society for Plant Biologists led to the launch of a jointly owned journal, Plant Direct, which opened for submissions in May this year.

Working in a friendly organisation means leaving is always going to be difficult but SEB has reinforced what I knew already to be true: a good organisation is so much greater than the sum of its parts. So I would like to end by thanking those people who made my time at SEB particularly enjoyable. Firstly the staff: Sabina, Oliver, Esen and Conor who keep the organisation running smoothly and who really take seriously the needs of members.

Thanks also to Keith Lindsey, one of our former presidents, for employing me and to Martin Watson, our treasurer and Keith’s partner in crime at my interview! Thanks to Craig Franklin for his boundless enthusiasm and commitment which made my job much more fun. Thanks also to Patrick Hussey for all his support and commitment to making the SEB a more resilient organisation during his Presidency.

In closing I’d like to wish all Council Members good luck for the future and to thank them for all the time they give to SEB out of their busy professional lives and for all the support they have given me during my time as CEO.

Finally, to all SEB Members whatever your discipline, I quote Douglas Adams in the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, “goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!”



Category: Spotlight on Members
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