Jacques Régis – a quiet strength

Outgoing Immediate Past President Jacques Régis reflects on his five years at the heart of IEC governance

By Morand Fachot

IEC Immediate Past President Jacques Régis ends his mandate at the end of this year. He shared his views and some of the milestones that marked his term on his six-year involvement in IEC governance for e-tech. Régis is confident the relief of the IEC guard is ensured and says he was impressed by the quality and dedication of IEC staff and experts and by the collective spirit within the Council.

Jacques Régis Jacques Régis

Electrical energy efficiency and conformity assessment

When I joined, a central element of my action was to place energy at the core of our activities. I was fully aware that the IEC was an organization that had a unique standing as regards international standardization in a domain that is strategic for the whole economic development of countries. This distinctive position needs being constantly stressed and it is something I tried to do as member of a team, together with the General Secretary, the IEC Officers and the Council Board.

What struck me when I started was that the Conformity Assessment work was not given the prominence it deserved. For my part, I saw it as a central pillar of the IEC's future, which also sets it apart from other organizations in the marketplace since no one else has anything comparable. It is quite remarkable if one also takes into account all the related knowledge and I really thought that it deserved stressing.

I must say that I am delighted to see several strategic initiatives launched by the SMB (Standardization Management Board) and the CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) that take into account all areas as we deal with all aspects that concern energy efficiency and how to measure it. With all the systems that exist in the world today, we're starting to contemplate an IEC-like system that would give an overall international view on how to assess and measure energy efficiency.

However, we haven't sufficiently managed to communicate to all those involved in energy efficiency what we're already doing in this area where International Standards play a central role.

We must think about the best way to make the widest possible number of interested parties aware of what we can already offer in the energy efficiency domain.

Being more proactive

I thought that it was important to be even more proactive than we were before, to be able to pre-empt the needs that might emerge in standardization as well as in Conformity Assessment. I'm very pleased with the progress made.

There were many initiatives led by the SMB on key issue with the creation of several Strategic Groups including Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid. IEC-CIGRE (Council on Large Electric Systems) joint Seminar on Ultra High Voltage.

Also, the MSB (Market Strategy Board) was introduced. Its role had already been defined in the previous strategic plan. When I joined in 2007, the new 2006-2011 Strategic Plan was already in place. It was under my mandate that the MSB was launched and began its work with the publication of the IEC's first White Paper on Coping with the Energy Challenge. I found it very rewarding to see our contribution in the energy efficiency domain recognized. I consider this to be a corner stone of our action and one of our strongest assets.

I was also keen to improve our cooperation with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) as well as with CIGRE. The right approach was to deal with issues that might emerge in a timely way.

Ensuring the relief of the guard

I had a number of objectives when I was elected. An obvious one was to pave the way for the future and I always hoped I could do something in that direction. I am convinced that we managed to advance quite some way along that path during my term. As far as the relief of the guard is concerned, the fact that younger people are joining is evidence of this priority, this was managed by the IEC team, and I must say that I think that we did a good job.

I think that the Young Professionals' Programme was one way of giving a concrete form to the idea of what needed to be done to prepare for the future. The Master Plan is obviously another stone in this construction, as it will help position the IEC in the global standardization market as well as for conformity assessment.

These are very important elements that will make the difference for the IEC in the long term.

Regional forum

I was very keen on another undertaking, namely securing our presence in different parts of the world where international standardization was being discussed. I thought it was essential for the IEC and for its effectiveness. I insisted to ensure that we were represented at the highest level in these, I think of COPANT (Pan American Standards Commission) and other similar regional groupings.

I inaugurated IEC-LARC (the IEC Regional Centre for Latin America) when I was President Elect in 2007; although this initiative had been launched before, I thought it was an excellent idea for promoting IEC work in Latin America. Thanks to Ronnie Amit.

Striking memory

Some of the best memories I will keep from the IEC will be the quality and dedication of the people working for it who are helping us achieve our objectives.

I hosted the 2003 IEC General Meeting in Montréal where I chaired the opening and closing ceremonies. It was my first contact with the reality of IEC General Meetings, there were some 1 200 delegates, it was a memorable experience. Our experts were involved in IEC TCs and I immediately agreed to host the meeting. I have an excellent memory of this, but it is quite another thing to join the governance, the Council Board, which I entered in 2005, as this allows one to observe from within how all this works.

Before getting involved in the Council Board, I was essentially a user of IEC International Standards when I worked for Hydro Québec, where IEC International Standards are key reference standards. I met many people working in IEC TCs (Technical Committees).

Once in the Council Board, I was asked if I wanted to run for the Presidency of IEC. I had just retired from Hydro Québec as Hydro-Quebec TransEnergie CEO after 35 years, 12 of which in senior management, so my experience meant my profile was interesting for the IEC, and I was available, which was a good thing as this position is rather demanding. Being elected was quite an emotional experience as this meant a transition from an idea to reality.

First steps

First of all, coming from outside the organization and not being familiar with its inner workings, one has to establish a close relationship with the General Secretary and Council members to be able to contribute more effectively.

I thought it was important to bring as much warmth and cooperation as possible, and to ensure people had more pleasure to participate and contribute as Council Board meetings were then quite formal. I find it important to have more complicity between people, to make them feel more at ease. Ronnie was an outstanding ally in this effort; his support was extremely important for this.

The collective spirit was excellent within the Council Board and the results of all its meetings were very positive and in the IEC's best interest

Ensuring the IEC's future

I think it is important to guarantee a place for the next generation that will take over. It is a good thing to have a programme, but it is not sufficient, we must also ensure the next generation is actively involved in the organization, contributes and shapes its future.

I believe this young generation will make a big difference in the organization's future and in its excellence. Not all organizations manage to do this, but I think we are well positioned in this respect and if we continue on this path we will be able to ensure our future.

What makes us so special and different from other organizations is that we have a well-defined focus in a domain that is strategically central to the world's entire economic prospect. We shouldn't lose sight of this and venture doing the same kind of activities which others do. We have a unique and rich business-oriented culture and this must be highlighted.

Developing participation

The IEC showed that it was an organization that was open to all countries that wanted to be involved, allowing them to benefit from everything we had to offer. The Affiliate Country Programme was an excellent initiative, launched before my term, that allowed countries which don't always have the necessary resources to enjoy the benefits of IEC International Standards and of its Conformity Assessment Systems. It helps them acquire a certain expertise and encourages them to take a more active part, and we can see that it works.

No country can afford to ignore IEC International Standards as they are central to any economic development.

It allows them to introduce the world's best practices in their country. This is a unique programme and an extraordinary one and more and more countries have joined the programme, they move on to become Affiliate Plus and then Associate Members, and we hope they will eventually become full members.

The numbers show the interest in the Programme. In 2007 we had around 64 Affiliates, we now have 81. The same applies to Members. All this shows the important role played by the IEC and its participation in the development of international trade. We can be very proud of all this.

Own future

As for my future, I was never the kind of person who planned ahead what I was going to do. I let my lucky star guide me. I am not looking for a job as such, anything specific, it is always possible to do something useful that we like doing. I'll spend time with my grandchildren. There might be other opportunities, but I am not chasing them. I'm more interested in doing voluntary work that benefits society, this is what guides me. We will see if my experience and skills can be of use to another organization

Besides, I am quite active; I chair two community organizations involved in helping youngsters who dropped out from school in the Greater Montréal area and this keeps me quite busy. It is rewarding to see individuals willing to persevere, who show a desire to succeed after having nearly dropped out completely. This is very rewarding.

As regards my involvement with the IEC over the past five years, as I told a Council meeting, it has been a privilege and honour to chair such an outstanding organization.

Jacques Régis Jacques Régis
Nomura is a member of a METI Study Group on the Scheme for Next-Generation Electric Power Transmission and Distribution Systems Warm atmosphere and good humour at the Affiliate Forum (General Meeting in Oslo
Young professionals gather for their workshop in Oslo Young professionals gather for their workshop in Oslo