STEM in associations | Octavio Peralta

STEM is an acronym that covers the various but related technical disciplines of “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.” It is commonly used in connection with educational policy or curriculum choice in schools.

Western Australia’s Department of Education said that through STEM, students develop key skills such as problem solving, creativity, critical analysis, teamwork, independent thinking, initiative, communication and digital literacy – areas that associations can also work on.

Given the changing global economy, current jobs are disappearing due to automation. New jobs appear quickly as a result of technological progress. The skills students develop through STEM can be the foundation for success in school and in their chosen careers in the future. In an association management environment, a STEM may have the following context:

1. Science. Association management is a separate area of ‚Äč‚Äčmanagement due to the unique environment of associations. Managers in an association environment are responsible for tasks similar to those of a business entity, such as human resource management, financial management, IT management, and project management. However, other aspects of governance unique to association managers include recruiting, engaging and retaining members, managing volunteers, accounting and financial management tax exemptions, developing non-contributory revenues, fundraising, and specific laws and regulations that apply to only for associations. In short, association management is a science in its own right.

2. Technology. The pandemic has changed the tech market landscape, accelerating business demand for digital innovation and challenging even those who are already technologically advanced. Technologies such as cloud computing, machine learning, the metaverse, and the Internet of Things are evolving at an incredible pace. However, most associations are known to be slow to adopt new technologies due to skills needs and financial constraints. Needless to say, the adoption of technology leads to increased efficiency, competitiveness, the ability to meet the challenges of remote and hybrid work, and lower costs. The development and implementation of new technologies is an important factor for associations.

3. Engineering. Financial engineering, in its broadest sense, refers to the application of engineering methods to solve financial problems. For example, organizations use this technique for risk management, business models, and new brand strategy, among other things. Associations are currently struggling to keep their finances afloat and this may require financial engineering in their membership as well as income generation models. Associations can benefit from the experience of a financial engineer who can manage their financial risks, identify market opportunities and optimize investment strategies.

4. Mathematics. Organizations, including associations, use mathematics to track income and expenses, prepare financial reports, and make informed decisions about resource allocation, among other things. Association managers need to have an understanding of financial ratios, for example, to be able to understand the organization’s financial health and make decisions that guarantee the best course of action. If an association is to survive and prosper, it must take care of its finances and take the necessary steps to ensure its prosperity.

Octavio Peralta is currently the Executive Director of the Philippine Global Compact Network and the founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Leaders of Associations, the “association of associations”. Email: