CEO Steve Hall – Final Update December 2020

Dear members and friends of SUT, this will be my last update as CEO as I stand down after the SUT Annual General Meeting on 14th December.  

There’ll be a short interlude until 1st January when Dr Cheryl Burgess joins as the new CEO, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role that I’m sure will help the Society emerge from the very strange times we’ve all been through in 2020 and into a stronger place, ready to face the challenges of energy transition, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for sustainable development, and much more.  

I’ll continue to be associated with SUT as the new Chair of the International Committee, as Dr David Kirkley stands down after many years of superb service to our growing international community. I’ll also be working with the Defence Special Interest Group on the drafting of a fascinating new white paper on the legal status of armed autonomous underwater vehicles – something that SUT can contribute to policy development in a rapidly changing field. My new day job as CEO at the Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum, which includes Marine Energy Wales and other key projects in the portfolio, will undoubtedly also keep me in contact with many SUT members. Thank you all for your help, support and friendship these last four years.  

A special thanks too for our UK-based staff, Jane, Jacqui, and Emily who’ve all made it possible to run SUT efficiently. Very few organisations with global reach are run with such a small team. Their colleagues employed in Perth and Houston have offered superb support, so I thank Patsy, Araceli, Tricia & Fiona for their efforts too, and the staff who unfortunately we had to let go of during the crisis of 2020 – Cheryl & Lisa in UK, and Jennifer in Perth.  

This week we held our 2020 AGM, ‘virtually’. AGM time is usually where members first encounter the new members of Council. Thanks to all of you who voted in this year’s Council elections, it’s the first time that we’ve used an online voting system and we certainly received a greater number of votes than we’ve seen in previous years. Richard Luff and Iain Knight were re-elected for second terms on Council, and I’m delighted to welcome Nick Swift and Dr M A Atmanand to Council. Nick Chairs our Defence SIG and brings a new dimension of expertise to Council, and Dr Atmanand is an esteemed scientist, former Head of the National Institute of Ocean Technology in Chennai, India. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for our Journal and plays a key part in the UN Global Ocean Decade for Sustainable Development, so like Nick a new kind of talent into Council that will really help grow our Society.  

I’m especially pleased to announce that our very own President-Elect is our dear friend Judith Patten. She was SUT’s first female Fellow and has served our ocean technology community as a champion, a communicator, a facilitator, and advocate for more years than would be polite for me to say. I interviewed Judith for episode 17 of our SUT Underwater Technology Podcast and it’s well worth listening to if you don’t already know her ]    

Thankfully as a Society we continue attract new members, and I’m very pleased to welcome the following organisations to SUT Corporate Membership:

  • OMV Petrom
  • Guernsey Electric
  • Hydrofix
  • Covenant University, Nigeria
  • Strathclyde University, Scotland

Thanks to everyone who’s been encouraging new organisations to join us, and sharing the good word about what SUT can do for you.  

That’s it from me for now, if I don’t get a chance to speak again may I wish you all good health, good business, and a very Happy Christmas and New Year for all who celebrate.