Liess’s career path is admittedly unusual. After studies of electrical engineering which he completed at the Technical University in Munich he went on to the Royal Military College of Science in the UK and thereafter occupied increasingly higher positions in the German Armed Forces and NATO. Upon his retirement from active duty at the level of Brigadier, he decided to return to his roots – electrotechnology - and in 1992 accepted a position as a member of the top management team at DKE. As strange as it may sound, his relative ignorance of the standardization process combined with top-notch leadership qualities were clear assets. Over the years he successfully led DKE and moved on to become the General Secretary of VDE (German Electrotechnical and Electronic Information Technology Association - Verband der Electrotechnik Elektronik Informationstechnik e.V.), one of the most important European electrotechnical associations, where he successfully defended German interests in European and International standardization forums.
When Liess was elected as the third IEC Vice President in October 2007, he was tasked with the foundation, promotion and subsequent leadership of the new MSB (Market Strategy Board). A body that was to identify technology trends and provide direct feedback on market needs to the IEC, with the aim to increase the efficiency, visibility and recognition of the commission in the market place.
Asked about defining moments, Liess underlined how he enjoyed finding and interviewing the right members for the MSB during an intense journey around the world. His efforts were crowned with success and the 15-person participant list of the MSB reads like a veritable “Who’s Who” in electrotechnology.
With the help of its members, who are active in special working groups, the MSB encourages the IEC to take a pro-active lead on discussions in the area of energy efficiency and Smart Grids, putting in place a technology watch and road-mapping solutions, as well as promoting efficient outreach to consortia.
When asked about the most important accomplishments of the MSB, Liess points to the two White Papers that were compiled under his leadership. The first one was issued in September 2010 under the title “Coping with the Energy Challenge” and outlines the role of the IEC from 2010 to 2030, including the importance of smart electrification as a major contributor to energy efficiency and the need for a systems approach to achieve optimal outcomes. True to the scope of the MSB, it identifies technology trends and market needs, provides strategic insights and defines priorities for standardization and conformity assessment in this area. The second White Paper which was presented during the General Meeting in Melbourne in October 2011 covers the hugely important topic of electrical energy storage without which a broad integration of renewable energies will remain utopic.
While Liess has now successfully completed his mandate as IEC Vice President he has agreed to stay on an additional year to lend his expertise to the MSB.