Mr. Frans Vreeswijk, general secretary and CEO of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), addressed the Board of Directors of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on December 6, 2012. Mr. Vreeswijk and his colleagues - IEC president-elect Junji Nomura, IEC past president Jacques Regis, James E. Matthews III, IEC vice president and Standardization Management Board (SMB) chair, and Ronnie Amit, former IEC general secretary and CEO, now a special advisor to the IEC president - met with a number of ANSI governance leaders, staff, and representatives during their two-day visit to the United States.During his presentation, Mr. Vreeswijk noted that, while the importance of standardization and conformity assessment is dramatically increasing in the global marketplace, standards still fail to get on the radar screen of many CEOs.
"Standards are a strategic instrument in competing for markets," he explained, "but leaders who do not have a technical background often fail to see how very critical standards and conformance are to their bottom line."
Made in the World
In today's global marketplace, products, services, personnel, and systems need to be able to cross borders. According to Mr. Vreeswijk, "'Made in Country X' doesn't exist anymore. Now, it's ‘Made in the World.'"
He then played a number of video interviews with CEOs, where these individuals articulated why their companies rely upon international standards and maintain active involvement with the IEC. According to Thomas Gross of Eaton Corporation, his company participates in part because "we can't have country-specific standards in the future. It will be too expensive." Videos from the CEOs of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Rockwell Automation were also shown; all three videos are available on the IEC's official YouTube page.
Vreeswijk noted that emerging countries are becoming increasingly influential in international standardization. He described how, in many Asian countries, standards education begins from a young age. Nations with an increasingly active and educated consumer base reap many benefits from their focus on standards education and outreach.
That is why, Vreeswijk said, identifying tomorrow's experts and leaders is one of IEC's primary strategic priorities. The IEC Young Professionals Programme was launched in 2010 and has since grown to be a very successful initiative.
The U.S. National Committee (USNC) of the IEC has been an active participant in this outreach program from its inception, and will soon announce the nomination period for 2013 Young Professionals.
According to 2011 U.S. Young Professional awardee Jonathan Colby, hydrodynamic engineer at Verdant Power, "Working with a small, diverse group of highly motivated and intelligent professionals was a highlight of the program for me. I was able to gain valuable insight into the way different countries and organizations utilize standards and contribute to the IEC."
Mr. Vreeswijk's presentation articulated a clear vision for the organization going forward: "Making IEC the Home of Industry."
Anticipating industry trends is a key part of the IEC's master plan and strategic priorities. But it's not enough to ask industry representatives what they need and respond to those requests. The challenge is to look ahead to determine what will be required tomorrow. Vreeswijk explained, "As Henry Ford once said, ‘If I had asked them what they wanted, they would have said: faster horses.'"
"I speak for everyone at ANSI in saying that we've truly enjoyed hosting Mr. Vreeswijk and furthering the partnership that ANSI, its U.S. National Committee, and IEC share," concluded S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO. "Our discussions were highly productive and informative, and I look forward to future opportunities to work closely with Frans and all IEC staff."
Frans Vreeswijk Named Next IEC General Secretary and CEO (January 5, 2012)