Guest Blog: Account from Asia Pacific on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on chemical engineers in the region

In today’s guest blog, chemical engineer David Platts tells us how he has been working to share knowledge to support chemical engineers in his region during the coronavirus outbreak.

DSCF5083Name: David Platts

Job title and organisation: NZ based Food Industry Consultant (semi-retired)

IChemE role: Member of the Learned Society Committee and Subject Area Lead Food

 

 In discussions with IChemE members in my region, it was evident that although much information published globally was centred on the major economic centres, we too had interesting stories to share regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Asia Pacific.

Working with the country chairs in Australia and New Zealand, and fellow Learned Society Committee member Alexandra Meldrum, a series of short webinars was planned highlighting how we were navigating the myriad of the challenges brought about by pandemic.

We asked two subject specialists to join us for the first webinar on 23 March. Both presenters shared some thought-provoking content which was extremely relevant to current events, but also challenged us to carefully consider future actions post the pandemic.

Trish Kerin, Director of the IChemE Safety Centre, gave a presentation titled “Decision Making in a Crisis”. Clearly this topic was of much interest to the delegates as we are indeed in a crisis and, for many, this provides many challenges to leadership. A key aspect that I took from the talk was that good leaders need to develop a well-stocked bank account of trust with the people they are leading. This point, I suggest, is highlighted by some of the differing global leadership styles that we are witnessing in many countries.

The second presentation was by Kennie Tsui, Principal Analyst at the New Climate Commission and board member of Engineering New Zealand. Kennie talked in depth about climate change issues going forward. Kennie gave us a vision of what could happen post COVID-19 if we let the brakes off too quickly, referencing the bounce back in emissions following the global financial crisis of 2008. We have a decision to make, follow a new path that leads to meeting our goals for emissions reductions or accelerate those emissions thereby making the challenges even more difficult. A direction that we need to carefully manage – informed and well communicated decisions are critical.

We do hope that those who viewed the presentations found them valuable. If you missed the webinar it can be viewed on the IChemE Safety Centre YouTube channel here.

For the future, please keep your eye open for more webinars as we would like to expand this initiative to the wider Asia Pacific region with more varied content. If you have stories to share, please contact us via the regional members portals for New Zealand and Australia. We would love to hear from you.

 

For more information on how IChemE is responding to the coronavirus outbreak, please visit our Coronavirus Information Hub.

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