Podcast: Roberto Boisson de Marca

Hear what Roberto Boisson de Marca has to say about important IEEE issues

7 June 2012
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Hello, this is Ania Monaco with The Institute. The annual IEEE election is right around the corner, with ballots going out to members in August. To help you decide who to vote for, I’m interviewing the candidates for 2013 IEEE president-elect about important IEEE issues. One of the candidates is IEEE Fellow Roberto de Marca. He joins me today in Phoenix at the IEEE Meeting Series. Thanks for joining me, Roberto.

Roberto de Marca: Welcome. Good morning, Ania.

Ania Monaco: Hello.

Roberto de Marca: I’m very honored to have been selected as a presidential candidate by the IEEE Board of Directors in the upcoming election. I’d also like to thank The Institute for providing this opportunity to reach the membership.

Ania Monaco: Well, we’re happy to have you here.

Roberto de Marca: Thank you.

Ania Monaco: So, to start off I’d like to know, what would your top two priorities be if elected?

Roberto de Marca:  I would like to lead IEEE into the next decade. The first priority is to guarantee that IEEE will have a leadership role in new technologies and in fostering and sustaining global innovation initiatives.

The second priority is to develop benefits and services, including more online networking and learning opportunities, that will allow members to perceive IEEE as essential in their career development and professional success.

Ania Monaco: Why do you feel that you would be the best candidate?

Roberto de Marca: There are several reasons. I have had a very diverse and successful experience as an IEEE volunteer and, similarly, a diverse professional career where I held positions in academia, industry, and government.

In IEEE, I served four years on the Board of Directors and participated in the activities of four major boards, as well as the Awards Board. I also led the initial development of IEEE’s Humanitarian Technology Challenge program. I have unique experience in fostering activity in new technologies, both inside IEEE as chair of the Future Directions Committee and in my country, Brazil, where I held government leadership roles in this area.

In every volunteer position I held, including president of IEEE’s second-largest society [the IEEE Communications Society] and as vice president of IEEE Technical Activities, I made things happen; I made concrete contributions for the good of IEEE.

Finally, in life, I have cherished acquiring international experience in diverse cultural sensitivity. I have lived for periods of time in six IEEE regions, and therefore I have a unique world view of IEEE.

Ania Monaco: What new benefits do you think IEEE should offer to members?

Roberto de Marca: One of the top five recommendations of the 2011 IEEE Sections Congress was that there should be recognition of a member’s longtime association with IEEE. And I would extend that to significant volunteer work. This recognition should be in tangible benefits that reward loyalty and dedication to the organization. I will seek to implement programs that could offer, for example, discounts and access to information and registration for career-enhancing webinars and other IEEE products.

IEEE must also focus on developing educational programs, and that goes back to my priority, too. It should allow members to stay current and involved with their careers and also be perceived as having value by their employers. These programs, to be successful, must be developed in partnership with industry. I’ll use my extensive contacts with global industry leaders to help implement these new programs. However, it’s also true that if IEEE wants to be relevant to industry, it must continue to be the authoritative source of information presented in a way that’s suitable for the different audiences it must reach.

Ania Monaco: Past IEEE presidents have supported IEEE’s expansion in places like Africa, China, and India. What else do you think IEEE can do to be more global?

Roberto de Marca: IEEE in recent years has, indeed, made important strides towards becoming a truly global organization. However, there is more to be done. There has been a clear shift in innovation development demographics, and IEEE must be able to engage in activities and technologies dispersed all over the world. It’s important to give [members] opportunities to rise within IEEE ranks to leadership positions. IEEE can only try for the future if it can embrace the talent of these individuals across the globe. To be truly global, IEEE must offer a full range of services and benefits to all its members, regardless where they live. IEEE must continue to increase its physical presence in different regions of the world. It seems to be that opening offices in Region 8, with Europe, Middle East, Africa, as well as South America, is the next step in this direction.

Ania Monaco: Now finally, which new areas of technology do you think IEEE should focus on?

Roberto de Marca: As chair of the IEEE Future Directions Committee, I fostered the creation of coordinated activities in the smart grid, cloud computing, and electric vehicles. Going forward, I strongly believe IEEE must be a major player in technology related to the confluence of electrical engineering and medical sciences, such as neuroscience and brain-machine interface. Another area that IEEE must take leadership is in all aspects of smart living. This includes smart grid, energy-efficient ICT (information and communication technology), as well as improving the living conditions of the elderly. These two major areas are human-centric and very much aligned with the IEEE motive of advancing technology for the benefit of humanity.

Ania Monaco: Well, thank you so much for joining us, Roberto.

Roberto de Marca: It was a pleasure, and now I can enjoy Phoenix.

Ania Monaco: You can enjoy the rest of the Meeting Series. Best of luck to you.

Roberto de Marca: Thank you very much.

Ania Monaco: And IEEE members, don’t forget to check out the election section of our website to learn more about the candidates.

This interview was recorded 18 February 2012.

NOTE: Transcripts are created for the convenience of our readers and listeners and may not perfectly match their associated interviews and narratives. The authoritative record of The Institute’s audio programming is the audio version.

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