Reflections on my ESE Presidency: Andrea Giustina
Reflections on my ESE Presidency: Andrea Giustina
When I started my term as President of ESE in May 2019, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to achieve under my key strategy of ‘Inclusion’. I am grateful that we had the enormous support of the ESE office, led by our CEO Helen Gregson, as well of that of our President-Elect Martin Reincke and all the Executive Committee members and, importantly, the contribution of every single member of the Society. Thanks to this, we were able to start all the reforms we had in mind and largely implement them before COVID-19 arrived.
At that point, of course, the pandemic forced me and ESE (in a similar way to the whole world) to switch to an emergency mode of reaction, which, unfortunately, must remain our focus.
I am very proud of all the objectives that we have been able to meet in the first 18 months of my term, and for the valuable part that we have played as reference point for the entire endocrine community in difficult, unprecedented times.
I took the Society from my predecessor AJ van der Lely in a very good shape. I am going to pass it to my successor as a modern, global body, capable of playing a key role through the effective ‘inclusion’ of all the stakeholders in the world of endocrinology. Ours is a common ‘house’, accommodating − and advocating at the very highest institutional level for − all endocrinologists and endocrine patients. The objective is to finally attain recognition for their work and for the relevance of their disease, respectively.
The ‘inclusion’ plan worked marvellously well, firstly due to the strong understanding by all our partners and members that it was only by being unified and united that the global challenges we faced could be overcome! And, in this sense, the tragedy of COVID-19 gave us the feeling that this was not only the right way but, many would say, the only way to go.
Who did we ‘include’ in the Society? First, all our colleagues: endocrinologists around Europe and beyond! As stated in my objectives, the number of members increased significantly. However, more importantly, we set up the basis of a strong link with National Affiliated Societies through EARS (the ESE Advocacy Representation Scheme), under the auspices of the new Membership Committee. This will enable us to reach the goal (or the ‘dream’, if you like, of our forefathers) to be the Society representing ALL endocrinologists in Europe.
These colleagues include clearly, and most importantly, the early career endocrinologists, who are the future of our discipline. For them, a brand new Early Career Member Task Force was created, in strong partnership with, and strengthening the link with, the ESE Young Endocrinologists and Scientists (EYES).
Furthermore, they include the endocrinologists working on rare diseases, for whom the new ESE Rare Disease Committee has been formed, to partner and officially strengthen our ties with Endo-ERN.
We put our National Affiliated Societies at the core of ESE, through the ESE Council of Affiliated Societies (ECAS). Apart from their crucial role in the membership initiative, the national societies have now been deeply involved either directly or through ECAS in all Society activities, starting with nomination of candidates to the Executive Committee. The role of Society leadership is to grant the widest possible involvement of all national societies in ESE’s core assets, which is well represented by the restructured and updated ESE Focus Areas.
The national societies now clearly understand that it is only through ESE that they can speak with one strong voice at the level of European institutions. In fact, ESE now has a clear policy and advocacy strategy, and an infrastructure to support it. This includes a professional Brussels-based agency, which will also importantly raise our profile and brand in the crucial media arena. Our new White Paper marks another important step regarding raising our profile in the political environment!
We also recognised that ESE’s image needed to be raised within Brussels and, for this reason, we have set up an office in Brussels and a legal body – the European Hormone and Metabolism Foundation – Foundation of the European Society of Endocrinology (the ESE Foundation), which will soon become the home of all endocrinologists and of all the friends of endocrinology. The President of the ESE Foundation will be the immediate Past-President of ESE, and an ECAS representative will sit on the Board of Directors.
With regards to collaboration with ESE’s sister societies, I have been immensely proud to build a strengthened relationship with the Endocrine Society, including signing an agreement to prepare joint clinical guidelines. This represented a historic step for our friendship and the creation of a global endocrine community, which is one of my dreams! We have also set up the International Liaison Committee which provides a platform for global interaction between ESE and societies outside Europe.
Clearly, with all these new activities, and particularly in such difficult times, the financial sustainability of the Society has become not only an objective, but a vital element in allowing ESE to play a leadership role in the global endocrine community. To this end, I am very proud of the vision to create a Finance Committee, which will keep a careful overview of the Society’s budget, under the chairmanship of the ESE Treasurer. I am also very proud that, in 2019, we achieved a ‘break even’ position with regards to our finances! This year has been challenging on the financial front, but it is likely that the outcome will be far improved compared with the original possible projections! I have also initiated a review of all our supplier contracts and relationships, and challenged the ESE office team to find cost savings and to budget extremely carefully.
This positive financial outlook could not have been possible without our industry partners. We have a high level and strategic relationship with this group, which is led by the Industry Partnerships Board, co-chaired by our CEO and a representative from one of our Premium Corporate Member partners. The loyalty that our industry colleagues has shown us during the turbulent time in 2020, especially with regards to continued support for e-ECE 2020, is testament to this relationship. In addition, the number of companies supporting ESE has increased during my 2-year tenure.
Finally, as I remarked at the beginning, we have promptly and effectively reacted to the new reality and provided essential support to the endocrine community. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that the ESE statement on COVID, which was published in Endocrine at the beginning of the first pandemic wave in Europe, has so far been downloaded more than 13 000 times. It already has over 50 citations in the medical literature. We also provided a great deal of other information around COVID-19 and endocrinology, and changed all our events in order to continue to provide education, ranging from our fantastic virtual congress, e-ECE 2020, and our Clinical Update on Acromegaly, to all our educational activities.
I look forward to working for you and with you during the remaining months of my term as ESE President and am counting on leaving ESE in good and trustworthy hands, that are stronger than ever!
Stay safe, my friends, and see you at e-ECE 2021!
Warm best wishes