IEEE VIS - Being General Chair of IEEE VIS

Being a General Chair (GC) for IEEE VIS puts you at the head of a talented team of enthusiastic and capable people from around the world. It enables you to draw upon these people, and your own local talent, to deliver an exciting VIS conference in your way, as you bring the global visualization community to you. It is a lot of work, but it’s a rewarding, influential and well supported role.

This setup has enabled many members of the community to deliver great international conferences in places that are important to them and in a way that they have contributed to shaping. Here, some of these former General Chairs describe and reflect on their experiences when taking on this important role, to let the community know a little about the benefits, opportunities, and of course workload associated with being the GC of IEEE VIS. We hope that this will inspire other individuals and groups to volunteer and lead our community into the VIS future.

It is a big commitment, and not something to take on lightly, but in the end it is really fun. I would recommend it to anyone with the energy and desire to be involved in the community.
Valerio Pascucci (General Co-Chair, IEEE VIS 2020, Salt Lake City)

You learn a lot about our community and yourself. Even if you are very experienced in several aspects of VIS organization. Chairing a VIS conference is different and brings you many new insights that you never expected.
Holger Theisel (General Co-Chair, IEEE VIS 2018, Berlin)

It is like hosting an event for a thousand of your closest friends
Jim Ahrens (General Chair, IEEE VIS 2019, Phoenix)

Have influence …

GCs deliver the conference according to a set pattern, but there is scope to put your stamp on IEEE VIS - to connect with, and influence how the conference runs by developing it in new directions based on your vision and community feedback. Former GCs have injected initiatives, changed emphasis, and innovated - changing the scope of IEEE VIS, its focus and form of delivery, and broadening participation by bringing VIS to new audiences. For example, former GCs are proud to have …

  • expanded the art show substantially.
  • made a strong push to increase funding for diversity programs.
  • introduced industry keynotes to reinvigorate the supporter program.
  • worked with the professional IEEE team to improve the supporter program.
  • moved to an electronic posters session and provided posters online.
  • added short papers across the conference.
  • made lots of people happy with good beer.
  • initiated a change toward career development among our supporters, exhibition, and other functions.
  • started the merged opening session that included all three discipline-focus conferences (SciVIS, InfoVis and VAST) sharing their best content in one plenary

Showcase your part of the world & inspire your group

Gain higher visibility for your city and institution by showcasing local talent. Former GCs have enjoyed introducing their home cities, their organizations and facilities, and their local customs, with pride.

Get your local group, colleagues, collaborators, even more engaged with and excited about the conference and give them conference experience. Local volunteers can take on roles and really shape the IEEE VIS that you chair.

We are proud of the event (lasting memory 😊), but I also see a somewhat stronger community connection in the local scene now.

We selected local talent to deliver the conference, including our inspiring keynote speaker.

Make new connections …

As GCs you’ll meet lots of new people - both junior rising stars and more established names. Former GCs report that working with these leaders in the community on a weekly basis will result in broad, diverse, and lasting friendships with colleagues from all around the world.

The organizing committee is really an amazing group with a great energy and desire to support the community - being in the middle of it is really rewarding

You get to know a wide range of people in the visualization community including people with different backgrounds, areas of interest, and passions in the field

Lead the VIS team and enhance your reputation …

Increase your visibility and reputation as a member of the VIS community and with the IEEE by working with a large team of enthusiastic and capable colleagues to deliver the conference. Former GCs see this as an important benefit.

Chairing is hard work but does not need to be overwhelming - there is a great team of people in the Visualization Executive Committee, the Organising Committee and at the IEEE, that will support you in planning and running the conference

Being a GC gives you visibility within VIS and the IEEE - this is helpful, and it’s a chance to develop organizational skills and show that you have the credentials to take on major leadership roles.

Make a contribution …

Ultimately, being a GC is about working for the community to shape a great conference. This has its own rewards, and people are appreciative. Former GCs report on the satisfaction of giving back to the community through an important and influential service role that has long-lasting effect.

People had a good time, and it is rewarding when they express their appreciation for that.

Folks still come up to me, over 10 years later, remembering interacting with me at that VIS or at least remembering the conference that year and recognizing I was the chair. I suspect that that exposure is also a benefit in ways that are less visible to me.

We worked hard to leave the conference in better shape than when we arrived.

Think About it!

If you are inspired to think about hosting VIS, then please connect with the IEEE VIS Executive Committee (VEC) with your ideas, and check the two-stage IEEE VIS General Chair Applications & Bid Process.

Remember, that

  • Stage 1 commits you to nothing, it simply initiates some discussion.
    It does not involve any consideration of venues or negotiations with conference centres or hotels This all comes later (Stage 2!) and with support from the IEEE events team.
  • What we need initially are desire, ambition, capability, and potential in terms of people and locations that have possibilities.

Ultimately, VIS as a community is looking for capable people to either take the conference to new places, or to revisit favourite places that we know. In both cases we hope that they will build upon this fantastic conference series to move us forwards and in exciting new directions that are good for them, their colleagues, their city and IEEE VIS. Our former GCs have certainly found it to be a rewarding experience - personally, and for their organization and host city.

Serving your community as a GC of VIS can be one of the most rewarding professional experiences of your career. If you love VIS, the whole field, you can contribute and make your impression on the conference. It was a privilege working with some of the best people I have ever met, people of integrity and commitment who love the conference and the community and give their best efforts to its success. If you open yourself to it, you can learn a lot from the experience and make friends for a lifetime. Though it is a profound relief when it is over, you can look back with pride, and you will find there were many happy times along the way.
Terry Yoo (General Co-Chair, IEEE VIS 2016, Baltimore)

Hosting the IEEE VIS conference positions the chair’s institution at the forefront of the international visualization academic research community, and positions the host city as a world-class tourism destination, providing both the institution and the city with invaluable Marketing and Public Relations opportunities. It also enables the chair to grow the conference and keep it relevant by infusing new ideas, new concepts, new venues and local talent, upon which future conferences can build
Maxine Brown (General Co-Chair, IEEE VIS 2015, Chicago)

Mid-career and senior people in our field often acknowledge that they have benefited from those who have preceded us — former teachers, mentors and researchers. They also are looking at ways to invest in others. Certainly there are great service roles with our community, but being a General Chair at IEEE VIS is an opportunity to both be in a leadership and service role simultaneously. In doing so, a person has the opportunity to partner with others seeking to steer and grow our community efforts while at the same time serving the current and next generation of visualization scientists.
Mike Kirby (General Co-Chair, IEEE VIS 2020, Salt Lake City)

Change Log

  • 26 April 2021 - VEC : minor updates on proofing
  • 23 April 2021 - VEC : created