As we know, IEEE is a technical-based professional organization with members worldwide, in many diverse technical positions, and at varying stages in their career. But it is also a business requiring funds to conduct its important activities on behalf of its members, the profession, and society. Even though our members form a community, we enjoy a high intellectual level with the opinions and views as individuals. The President, who is also the Chief Executive Officer, must take all of this into account.
With this understanding, we should be able to develop a specification for the person for the position of IEEE President. This is not a specification for the Presidency but obviously there will be some overlap.
The person should be a leader and manager but being specific the person should have the following characteristics or experience:
1. Have held a Chair or Vice President position in at least one Organizational Unit. This is important for the individual to have an understanding of the complexity of the IEEE; its issues; what works and what doesn’t work; a vision of the future and to demonstrate leadership.
2.Have been a member
of the IEEE Board of Directors. Often members have not had prior experience and
don’t know what is expected of them in setting policy, managing but not
micromanaging. If a person is going to be
the IEEE President he/she can’t learn how to lead and chair a board in the job
as President. Because of the individualism of the members, and the fact that
several have not had prior experience, it is necessary that the President be a
mentor and a diplomat.
3. Have demonstrated
that the person is able to work with others in a constructive manner. Members
have their own views and while they are supposed to be acting on behalf of the
IEEE entity, it is difficult for them to forget the entity that is the reason
they are on the Board and place IEEE first.
4. While not an
absolute necessity, it would be preferred if the person was personally
responsible for the payment of his/her own dues during their membership rather
than be corporate-funded. This is to help the person relate to members who
question value, or if have financial restraints.
5. Have a technical or
administrative position that members will respect. The President is also the
Ambassador to the world and other organizations, so that hereto, it is
preferable that the individual have a relatively significant background.
Having gone through this accounting of desirable characteristics and experience, I am now in a position to evaluate Barry for IEEE President. Jumping ahead, I feel strongly that my recommendation of Barry for the position of IEEE President is the correct one.
I have known Barry for about 10 years and was in a position to interact with him for the majority of them. I can attest that he has the characteristics and experience that I have considered necessary. I do not want to recite the many significant positions that he has held nor the many important contributions that he has made both within and outside the IEEE. You can read them elsewhere. I would like to mention one specific activity that impressed me and is indicative of the kind of leader that Barry is. I am referring to the time when he was IEEE Secretary (2008-2009). One of the tasks of the Secretary was to chair the Governance Committee. Prior to Barry’s time, the main task of this Committee was to review potential bylaws, policies, and procedures before they were presented to the Board of Directors. The review was primarily mechanical – compliance with existing bylaws, format, etc. It did not consider the impact nor relevance of the material.
However, there were many issues that the Board was facing, formally and informally. Many of these issues were contentious ones but were not being addressed – define role of the Executive Committee; define interface with the Executive Director; qualifications and job descriptions of member positions; composition of the Board, terms of office, and election process. Barry led the Governance Committee to become a true governance body and addressed these issues. He had to face considerable differing views both within the Committee and the Board. Barry led with a “capital L” keeping members and Directors focused, minimizing potential antagonism, and achieving results.
I could go on and on about Barry’s qualifications but let me end with one additional positive comment. Based on his position at West Point and the responsibility that he was given relative to the IED (improvised explosive device) project, he can be recognized globally as a person of stature.
2004 IEEE President