View from the Top: New Year, New Challenges, New Opportunities

by kccarter.1@uky.edu on Friday, January 11, 2019

Authored by Kim C. Carter
SRAI President
University of Kentucky


Looking back at 2018, I would like to congratulate and thank the volunteers and staff for the amazing meeting in Orlando. The annual meeting co-chairs, Silke Blohm, Marcia Landen and Ellen Zavala, put together a meeting filled with learning opportunities pertinent to our daily work and networking events to foster connections with colleagues across the world.  The members who volunteered at the registration desk, served as ambassadors or room monitors, presented workshops or sessions, joined dinner groups or otherwise helped create a welcoming atmosphere for new and returning attendees absolutely contributed to the meeting’s success. Staff worked hard on the meeting logistics prior to our arrival and continued to display their commitment to our members by handling the myriad of meeting logistics that enabled all of us to focus on learning and networking. Thanks to all of you, I had an awesome time reconnecting with friends and meeting new colleague, and I learned some new ways to tackle some of my work challenges.

Happy New Year! I wish you a prosperous, healthy and productive 2019. My hope is that the year will be one of renewed compassion, caring and reflection.

As we move into 2019, to say that we are in interesting times is an understatement. Changes and challenges in professional responsibilities, increasing utilization of new technology, and complex, evolving regulatory frameworks are just a few examples of the obstacles and opportunities that confront us in 2019. SRA International is well positioned to thrive in this evolving landscape.

SRAI’s leadership, staff and the volunteer membership begin this year with a commitment to do an even better job for you. Your generous feedback has helped the Society align and refine planning for the coming year, and it is our hope that members experience a true benefit from these initiatives. The following programs are but a few of the member programs that will be launched in 2019:

Micro-credentialing: SRAI embarked last year on a large, and very exciting project to introduce a micro-credentialing program which will provide training for those in research administration. We identified seven core topics covering essential administration areas relevant to research managers across all roles and responsibilities. Examples of the areas to be covered include the Sponsored Project Lifecycle, Regulatory and Compliance, and Clinical and Translational Research. Each broad topic will be comprised of several separate learning modules. SRAI members are in the final stages of developing the first course offerings with an online release date scheduled in 2019.

These modules will allow for a standard approach to communicating the knowledge required for effective research administrators. They are aimed at those new to the profession (1-3 years) and those wishing to update their knowledge in specific areas. The project draws on the expertise of almost 100 SRAI subject matter experts and is supported by a leadership task force, module developers and reference groups assisting the module developers. This program aspires to offer substantive training across a wide range of topics that will improve the ability of members to facilitate the important research being conducted at our home organizations.

Professional development opportunities: In October, over 1,500 research administrators will come together in San Francisco for the 2019 SRAI Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting will feature subject matter experts from industry, government, health care organizations, non-profits, and institutions of higher education.

Furthermore, we have a schedule of program offerings with further educational opportunities that include in-person Section meetings, Chapter meetings, and Intensive Trainings; online trainings through the monthly live webinars and personalized trainings through the traveling workshops. All of these professional development opportunities have been made possible thanks to the hard work, expertise and dedication of our volunteer members. If you ask yourself who those volunteers are, these are your peers, your colleagues who spend their time to make sure that SRAI covers the needs of our members and advances the field of research administration & management.

As I usually say, superheroes are not fictional characters, but real-life people of strength, conviction and perseverance with the capacity and determination to change things that need to be changed and help people who need help. We, research administrators, exhibit common characteristics of familiar and less known superheroes daily: we read minds, sense danger and dodge obstacles. Most superheroes were not born superheroes; they became superheroes, so join us this year and explore the superhero within you!

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions and thoughts. Feel free to contact me at president@srainternational.org.