IFSJ Influencer: Nicole Boston, CEO, SFPE

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Chief Executive Officer of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE), Nicole Boston, shares her views and predictions for the fire and safety industry for the year ahead

As I think about what lies ahead in 2023, it is essential first to recognise how much has changed over the past couple of years. So, with one eye on the past, I see more change ahead regarding our fire safety and fire protection workforce and our collective appetite to learn.

Through my role at SFPE I have the distinct pleasure of talking with our members regularly. Members from across the globe, and so many of them are saying the same thing: that finding and retaining employees is more challenging now than it has been in quite some time. While there are many reasons for today’s workforce challenges, members I have talked with seem to agree that the impact of employee turnover on businesses is substantial.

Recognising this, SFPE is doing more to position the SFPE Career Connect portal as more of a resource – helping employers with an easy-to-use job board that is targeted to professionals in our industry while also providing job seekers with free resources like resume review, networking tips, interviewing best practices, and so much more. The way we see it at SFPE – if we can help connect employers with the right candidates, everyone wins. And the sooner we can return to a steadier workforce, the better.

This brings me to my second prediction – that our appetite for learning will continue to grow. As someone who is energised by in-person educational events and experiential learning, I am so happy that it is safer now for us to convene again and learn from one another. And, apparently, many others in our industry are energised by this, too – the demand for our in-person education has never been this high.

We had record attendance at our recent annual conference and expo, and the desire to speak at our upcoming conference and expo in Berlin this March also far exceeded our targets – and to be honest, I think that the Berlin conference will have another record-setting number of attendees. With additional SFPE in-person events planned and in development for 2023, we hope to see many IFSJ readers at SFPE events, too. 

I want to note, though, that I also expect the demand for virtual learning to remain strong, too. SFPE regularly has 200, 300, or even 500 people register for our webinars — one of our webinars just a couple of months ago had 750 people register – confirming that people continue to find value in learning online from the convenience of their home or office, too.

I also confidently say that the digital engagement that has grown in popularity these past couple of years will continue to grow. The conversations that I see taking place amongst engineers in the fire safety community on LinkedIn are rich and informative, our private virtual community “SFPE Connect” regularly has 1,500 contributors/readers each month, and the demand for SFPE digital publications has never been higher. People value the benefits that are provided through digital engagement. 

To learn more about the Society of Fire Protection Engineers or any of the SFPE programs that I mentioned here, visit sfpe.org. To chat about something I shared, e-mail me at [email protected].

About the influencer

Nicole Testa Boston, CAE, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, a global professional society of engineers dedicated to reducing fire risk, where she has served in that role since 2013. Nicole has over 25 years of experience in the engineering industry, having previously served as deputy director of Fiatech, an industry-led consortium in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, she served as executive director of the Building Futures Council and held senior management positions at the Civil Engineering Research Foundation at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

This article was originally published in the November edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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