This piece was originally published in the August 2017 issue of electroindustry.
Andrew Northup, Director, Global Affairs, MITA, and IEC Young Professional
The next time you find yourself in a standards meeting, look around. Whether you’re at NEMA, MITA, ANSI, or the IEC, you’ll see a room full of knowledgeable experts and seasoned leadership teams, working together to write and maintain standards as they have for years, or sometimes decades.
This is the standards workforce. It didn’t create itself overnight. It took years for the individuals to gain enough technical knowledge to serve on that committee; years still to master the procedures, processes, and politics of their standards developing organizations; and several years on top of that to rise to a position of leadership.
If you add up all those years, you’re looking at a group of professionals whose combined level of experience is staggering. Their combined seniority is irreplaceable. Many of these professionals are eligible for retirement. What if they all retired? Who would keep the standards world running if everyone who knew how to do it wasn’t there anymore?
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) understands how vital a competent, experienced workforce is to keeping the standards world not only running but also adapting to meet the needs of a changing world and dynamic technologies. It began the Young Professionals Programme (YPP) in 2012 to ensure that the next generation of the standards workforce is ready when the current leaders adjourn their last meeting before retirement.
Having been selected as a YP in 2016, I got an inside look. The YPP doesn’t just tell young professionals to go sit in a technical committee meeting, it makes sure that participants have a meaningful role to fill and are prepared to do so. It establishes a strong connection between the YPs, members, and leaders of the committees in their areas of interest.
The YPP strives to increase diversity in the standards workforce and create a more inclusive IEC by encouraging and supporting women and people from emerging nations as committee members and leaders. This will allow the IEC to reflect the world we live in, and the new and diverse perspectives will add value and make the organization stronger.