VoLT – Creating the IEEE Leaders of Tomorrow

Continuing its successful multi-year year implementation, the MGA 2019 Volunteer Leadership Training Program (VoLT) is set to launch on 5 September 2019, with a class of 66 volunteers, 63 mentors, 15 sessions and 12+ speakers.

The Members & Geographic Activities (MGA) Board agreed to pilot the program in 2013, with 19 graduates, and later approved its implementation. Since then, the VoLT program continues to thrive, boasting over 250 graduates by end of 2018. VoLT graduates represent all IEEE Regions and over 100 Sections.

“From the start, the purpose of the VoLT program has been to empower volunteers to become more engaged, take positions of leadership within their units and later within the larger IEEE,” said Loretta J Arellano, a senior IEEE Volunteer from Region 6 and the program founder.

As a testament to its success, a survey of graduates in late 2018 revealed that 73% had taken leadership roles within their local operational units and at the region level. Furthermore, 87.6 % were active within their units, and 68.1 % had implemented learnings from the program. This confirms that VoLT is not only validating its original goals, but also transforming volunteers into the IEEE leaders of tomorrow.

Administered by MGA’s Training Committee, VoLT consists of two tracks. Track 1, delivered online, via the Center for Leadership Excellence (CLE) and it provides foundational knowledge of the overall IEEE organization. This year, 214 volunteers completed Track 1. Track 2 starts in September and lasts 3 months; participants have weekly live webinars. Each year, VoLT features sessions focused on leadership topics presented by IEEE members and senior volunteers, including the current IEEE President. 146 volunteers applied for Track 2 in 2019.

Mentorship is a key component of the VoLT program. Students get a mentor to help them navigate the program and develop a lasting relationship. VoLT has 63 mentors this year, 62% of which are VoLT graduates. As a mentor from Region 9 told a VoLT student, “Through this program you will discover that IEEE is more than receiving magazines, it is a style of living and your professional life.”

Earlier this year, the Training Committee launched a Collabratec community targeted to VoLT graduates. In a 3+ minute livestream delivered this August by the program’s founder, graduates were asked to answer a question: “How the VoLT program has influenced you as a volunteer?”- The responses translated in valuable testimonials on how VoLT has transformed their lives. Some examples include:

“I learnt a lot more about IEEE and its structure and that have enhanced my interest and stirred my appetite for IEEE volunteering opportunities”, R8 Volunteer---

“Volt gave me the knowledge of where to go to get the answers I need as a volunteer”, R1 Volunteer---

“It was a good learning curve. The program helped me understand how the organization works and what are the tools/resources available within the community to effectively communicate with others. Highly recommended program for active volunteers.” R10 Volunteer---

“I believe that the VoLT Program helped me in two ways: first, to understand how the Institute works and what can we do, as volunteers, to improve the way technology changes people's lives; and second, I met incredible people who want to contribute to a better world and that makes me happy, I feel at home.” R9 Volunteer----

Answering the question also triggered a special Collabratec generated VoLT badge. The goal is to see all graduates in the community and stay connected as they continue their IEEE journey.

A standing goal of the current MGA Training Committee Chair, Diane Bowen Collier, is to “have at least one Volt graduate in each of the 330+ IEEE Sections around the world”. From the program’s results to date, this goal may soon become a reality. VoLT highlights the critical role that volunteers play in the organization as they drive the vision and mission of IEEE by implementing activities and transforming the lives of so many throughout the world.