As the water industry prepares to attend WQA Aquatech USA, which is being co-presented by the Water Quality Association (WQA) and Amsterdam RAI and is taking place in Las Vegas, we caught up with WQA’s Interim Executive Director David Westman to discover what the organization has planned for this year’s event as well as what WQA has in store for 2015. Westman, who began his new position with WQA this past November, has a combination of experience and expertise in various leadership roles and plans to bring “fresh perspectives and techniques” as he helps to strengthen the organization’s internal structure and operations.
In this special Q&A, Westman discusses the association’s goals for this upcoming year, WQA’s Modular Education Program (MEP) and what to expect at this year’s WQA Aquatech USA.
WQA’s Aquatech USA 2015, which will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, will focus on education and networking opportunities, creating an effective platform for attendees to network, share ideas, learn about the latest trends/news and regulations impacting the water industry, as well as explore demonstrations of the latest innovative products, technology and services available. This year’s event, expected to exceed 2014 both domestically and internationally, will feature five learning tracks tailored to accommodate the particular educational needs of each type of water treatment professional; the tracks include: “Commercial Applications,” “Residential Applications and Regulatory Matters,” “Business Operations and Management,” “Process Water Applications” and “Water Treatment Basics.”
Water Technology: Please explain your background and, in your opinion, why you were selected as WQA’s interim and now executive director.
David Westman: I think my combination of experience and expertise in leadership roles in many different types of organizations — not just associations — was a big part of why the WQA board of governors decided to hire me. For example, I’ve served more than 100 organizations in consulting and leadership roles over the years.
I think the board was also drawn to my enthusiasm for the role and WQA as a whole. At this point in my career, I can afford to be picky, and there are a lot of organizations I simply wouldn’t consider working for. I was drawn to WQA because this association has the potential to serve not only its customers, but also society in general through the advancement of water quality improvement worldwide.
WT: How does your experience in financial management, governance structures, staffing and core processes complement WQA’s current objectives and goals?
DW: Our board clearly wants to strengthen WQA in all of those areas and, from the variety of roles I’ve had in the past, I think I bring some fresh perspectives and techniques. WQA already has a solid base in these areas; my role will really be to codify and improve an already strong organization.
WT: Over recent years, what have been the association’s biggest challenges/issues, and how are you currently addressing these challenges?
DW: WQA has experienced a significant amount of growth in recent years, and one of my main areas of focus is strengthening our internal structure and operations. The board and I want to continue the upward trajectory and make sure headquarters is running as smoothly and effectively as possible for the benefit of our customers.
WT: Each year at WQA Aquatech USA, WQA offers a state of the industry/market update on regulatory efforts and general market trends. Can you provide our readership with a sneak peak of what will be discussed at this year’s industry update address?
DW: I think attendees at WQA Aquatech USA 2015 will definitely notice our focus on education as a continuing theme throughout the event, including the industry update at our Opening General Session. There will be five different learning tracks available, each one tailored to fit the educational needs of a different type of water treatment professional. They should also expect to hear a lot about WQA’s Modular Education Program (MEP), which we developed specifically to mirror the precise training needs of today’s water treatment companies specializing in POU and POE technologies. We’ll have stations set up in the trade show hall where attendees can try out the MEP for themselves and learn how it can be incorporated into a company’s training program.
In terms of general market trends, we expect to release the results from WQA’s 2015 Consumer Opinion Study at the convention as well. In the past, our members have been very interested in the data gathered in this national study of consumers’ perceptions on water quality and water treatment.
WT: On Oct. 13, 2014, WQA published a news release regarding the boost in the U.S. economy and the correlating growth in marketing opportunities for foreign companies. Please explain the global presence expected for this year’s WQA Aquatech USA event.
DW: Last year visitors from a whopping 58 different countries traveled to Orlando for our show, and we expect an even greater international presence for WQA Aquatech USA 2015. In fact, we’re currently ahead of last year’s pace in both domestic and international registrations. Also, exhibit spaces in our International Pavilion have been moving fast and we expect to sell out shortly. A total of 40 companies based outside North America have already enrolled as exhibitors for the 2015 show.
WT: Overall, how will WQA Aquatech USA 2015 compare to previous events, and are there any new additions planned?
DW: There will be lots of new and different things to look forward to at this year’s convention and trade show. Regardless of whether someone attends every year or hasn’t attended WQA Aquatech USA in several years, we think they’ll be pleasantly surprised with these improvements, which are strategically designed to deliver even more value to participating companies and attendees.
This year's show will have a noticeable focus on education and networking opportunities, most noticeably our new "Ask the Expert" Q&A sessions. We'll be setting up several lounge areas around the trade show hall where attendees will have the opportunity to learn about select products and services, directly from the experts, in a relaxed, informal format.