Faster horses

IEC General Secretary addresses ANSI Board of Directors

By Gabriela Ehrlich

On 6 December, IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk addressed the Board of Directors ofANSI (American National Standards Institute). During his presentation, 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.”

Frans Vreeswijk addressing the Board of Directors of ANSI

Made in the World

In today’s global marketplace, products, services, personnel, and systems need to be able to cross borders. According to Vreeswijk, today products are no longer made in a single country, they are ‘Made in the World.’

As part of his presentation, Vreeswijk shared extracts of Global Visions interviews with CEOs from companies that participate actively in the IEC. Thomas Gross of Eaton Corporation stated that 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 UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and Rockwell Automation were also shown; all three videos are available on the IEC's official YouTube page.

Vreeswijk further 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.

Many IEC national committees, including the USNC (United States National Committee) have been active participants in this outreach programme from its inception in Seattle in 2010. The new nomination period for the 2013 Young Professionals is going to be announced soon. Young Professionals who have participated in the Programme over the past 3 years are unanimous in their praise, pointing particularly to the ability to gain valuable insights and network with a small and diverse group of highly motivated and intelligent professionals.

Faster Horses

In his presentation Vreeswijk articulated a clear vision for the organization going forward: “Making IEC the Home of Industry.” Anticipating industry trends is a key part of the IECMasterplan 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.’”

Joe Bathia, ANSI President and CEO, expressed his pleasure in welcoming Vreeswijk, who was accompanied by IEC President-Elect Junji Nomura, IEC Immediate Past President Jacques Régis, IEC Vice-President and Chairman of the SMB (Standardization Management Board) James E. Matthews III, as well as former IEC General Secretary and CEO Ronnie Amit.

Bathia concluded: “I speak for everyone at ANSI in saying that we’ve truly enjoyed hosting Mr Vreeswijk and furthering the partnership that ANSI, its US National Committee, and IEC share. Our discussions were highly productive and informative, and I look forward to future opportunities to work closely with Frans and all IEC staff.”

Vreeswijk Frans Vreeswijk addressing the Board of Directors of ANSI
IEC_global_visions As part of his presentation Vreeswijk shared extracts of Global Visions interviews with CEOs
ypp_looking_ahead_lrg Identifying tomorrow’s experts and leaders is one of IEC’s primary strategic priorities