This past year has been a challenging but exciting year for the ICS. The 2012 Annual Meeting in Beijing, although academically and scientifically successful, did not generate the same financial returns that we had seen in previous years. As I wrote to you in the ICS News of 2013, this was in part due to the changing global landscape of commercial support for professional societies. I also wrote that we have to be innovative and imaginative in finding ways to maintain and even increase the funding to support the excellent work that we do throughout the year. I am happy to report that in the past year the Board of Trustees, on your behalf, has taken major steps that will go a long way to secure the health of the ICS.
At the January 2013 Executive Meeting the Trustees were presented with the financial spreadsheet for the organisation that outlined our current status and predicted the next five years. We made very hard decisions to drastically reduce expenditures while keeping in mind that educational and scholarly activity must be maintained.
We also initiated the Strategic Planning Process that will provide us with a blueprint for the next five years. The strategic plan was necessary because the organisation had to meet the challenges of decreasing financial revenues, the perception that ICS’s scholarly output had diminished, and as multidisciplinary and multinational organisation we had to guarantee that the spirit of collegiality and collaboration inside and outside the organisation was secure. This process started last winter and will conclude very soon.
The aims of the Strategic Plan are to re-establish the ICS as the pre-eminent scientific society in incontinence, pelvic floor disorder and lower urinary tract function. The key aims for the ICS over the next 5 years are to develop scholarly activity to the highest standards, to restore the reputation of the ICS with key stakeholders, and to ensure financial health for the foreseeable future. Critical success factors identify those major areas of activity that the ICS must address and make significant progress in to achieve its aims. These factors are scholarly activity, organisational effectiveness, stakeholder engagement, and financial health. The detailed breakdown in how to achieve success in each area is in the plan which can be read here.
The Trustees are working on the final aspects of the plan, which are the changes and new initiatives along with assignments and timetables. These are clearly the most challenging aspects of the plan.
In keeping with the spirit of safeguarding the financial health of the organisation, the Trustees are regularly updated with projections for revenues at future ICS meetings. To address the 2014 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carlos d’Ancona and Nucelio Lemos have been closely engaged with the Trustees and the ICS office to ensure everything possible is being done to ensure a successful meeting.
Also in keeping with ensuring financial health the Trustees made a very bold decision to rescind our cooperation with IUGA in having a joint meeting in 2015. The revenue projections were alarmingly low and prompted the decision that had to be made prior to any binding contracts being signed. Our IUGA colleagues understood and accepted this decision and both organisations agreed to continue our close collaboration on other fronts in the future. Following this decision the Board solicited volunteers to hold the meeting in North America. Excellent candidates were identified and the membership voted to hold ICS 2015 in Montreal, Canada with Jerzy Gajewski, Meeting Chair, and Cara Tannenbaum, Scientific Chair. The projections for the success of the Montreal meeting are excellent.
The 2013 Annual Scientific Meeting in Barcelona was a tremendous success due to a great extent to the hard work and dedication of David Castro-Diaz, Meeting Chair, and Montse Espuña-Pons, Scientific Chair. There were 1,062 abstracts submitted and 84% were accepted in some capacity. The meeting was well attended and the scientific interchange and quality were of the highest calibre.
One of our major strengths is our membership numbers. In 2013 we topped 3,000 members for the first time in our history. We have five affiliate societies from around the world. We also have a very strong and dedicated volunteer base of about 175 people from the membership that forms the committees. Our committees are active and cover all of aspects of continence and pelvic disorders. With structural changes to be introduced from the Strategic Plan, the committees will be even more important to the mandate of the ICS. Thank you to all committee chairs and members for your work on behalf of the organisation.
This year two Trustees left the Board after very long periods of service. Werner Schaefer became a member of the ICS in 1973 and has attended all ICS meetings since 1974. He has occupied leadership positions in the ICS for many years. Ajay Singla has served in many leadership roles in the society; the most recent was Honorary Treasurer. We are indebted to these two individuals for their commitment to the ICS for so many years.
Adrian Wagg was elected as General Secretary-elect, and Sherif Mourad was elected as Honorary Treasurer. They have served the Society well as Trustees and no doubt they will continue to serve with dedication and enthusiasm in their roles.
In order to supplement the number of Trustees, a call for volunteers to become interim trustee went out after the meeting in Barcelona. David Castro-Diaz and Steinar Hunskaar were selected from a number of highly qualified people. They will serve until the next AGM in Rio de Janeiro.
Contract negotiations are underway with the publishers of Neurourology and Urodynamics, our official journal. We are hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a better financial arrangement between the society and the publisher.
Finally I would like to again acknowledge the excellent support and hard work carried out by the ICS Office staff throughout the year. The two directors, Dan Snowdon (Administration) and Dominic Turner (IT) have devoted many hours in making sure that everything gets done, especially this year when they contributed an enormous amount to the strategic planning process. My thanks also go to Avicia, Sophie, Jenny, Tracy, Ashley and Roger. The ICS Office is essential to the running of the organisation and we all owe the excellent staff our gratitude. Good-bye for now to Avicia who is going on her second maternity leave, we wish her all the best.
I believe the ICS has a bright future as long as we pay attention to what has been identified in the Strategic Plan. I look forward to another exciting year for the ICS and invite all of you to attend the next meeting in October in Rio de Janeiro.