Having been a part of the American Chemical Society's Rubber Division team since 2007, this may not have been my first rodeo when it comes to our International Elastomer Conference. However, it was going to be my first one as executive director and CEO of the ACS Rubber Division.
I had goals and aspirations about this first IEC in my new role. I was excited. I made my itineraries, booked my flights and I had all my Rubber Group and member visits scheduled for the year. I had ideas and plans ready to implement. I had an energized team ready to make things happen.
And then COVID-19 happened. Like everyone, I had no choice but to adjust my goals, aspirations, ideas and plans. I also had a team looking to me for direction, guidance and support during these uncertain and, let's be honest, scary times. Little did we know when forced to cancel our in-person 198th Technical Meeting in April due to the shutdown that we would be confronted with the decision to have to do the same for our International Elastomer Conference taking place six months later.
We have navigated this situation to the best of our ability, and I am proud to say we never lost sight of our goal to always be a valuable and constant resource to our great industry. We worked with many of our 198th Technical Meeting speakers to record their presentations so we could still make them available for those looking to increase their technical knowledge. We placed a much stronger focus on developing more education and training opportunities and offering a stronger lineup of courses and webinars than ever before. We looked for new ways to provide even more value to our members—offering our webinars free to them, transitioning to a new account portal and finalizing our Rubber Zone platform, which provides new ways to connect with others, discuss issues and work together.
We supported the future of our industry by offering our student members free registration to all our courses and webinars. We used this time to determine how we could best implement the International Elastomer Conference in the new world we live in.
Nothing is better than when we all gather at IEC in October each year. It is difficult to define the value of the actual experience of us all being there together. Walking the expo floor and learning about the exhibiting companies. Keeping up on technology and advancements in the Technical Meeting. Gaining new knowledge at the Educational Symposium courses. Having valuable face-to-face interactions, such as conversations in the hallways, networking and connecting at the parties and receptions, running/walking at the 5K. And just having some fun together, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.
The goal of the International Elastomer Conference every year is to provide you an event where connections are made; knowledge is shared; new products, new technology and new ideas are introduced; business is conducted, developed and gained; fun is had; encouragement and empowerment happen; and the future is embraced.