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Elections at PP-10: Meet the candidates
Interview with Dr Veena Rawat (Canada)
Candidate for the post of Director of the Radiocommunication Bureau
 
Dr Veena Rawat
 

Question 1

A fundamental mission of ITU is to manage the radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits. How has your experience prepared you for this mission in the years ahead, and what are your expectations?

Veena Rawat: My 35 years of experience in managing spectrum, satellite orbits and research and development, has given me a real-world perspective on the evolution of information and communication technologies (ICT) and its potential to address many of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.

Whether early in my career as an engineer with the Government of Canada addressing day-to-day radio interference issues, or later, as a senior executive making major policy and regulatory decisions, I’ve had the privilege of helping bring many new communication services to Canadians.

  "We need to ensure that the management of spectrum and satellite orbits by ITU keeps up with the pace of technology development and the explosion of new applications."
 

Working on the world stage requires strong leadership to ensure that the diverse objectives of all stakeholders are met. My determination and fair-minded approach to global negotiations has demonstrated time and again that common ground and solutions can be found. This was most evident during my chairmanship of the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2003 (WRC-03), which opened the door for billions of dollars of investment in new communication services globally.

Currently, as President of the Communications Research Centre, I manage Canada’s largest public sector ICT research and commercialization institution (400 staff and an annual budget of 50 million Canadian dollars). My experience with leading-edge research has given me an insight into the future directions of wireless technologies and services, as well as the opportunities and challenges they provide. Addressing such opportunities at the international level requires adept management, sound planning and greater collaboration with stakeholders. My proven track record in this respect will help develop an international regulatory framework that is responsive, timely and effective.


Question 2

What trends and issues are emerging today that you feel will have an impact on radiocommunications? And how should ITU respond in order to remain relevant as the crucial place in which critical spectrum matters are decided?

  "For ITU to remain the pre-eminent global organization for spectrum and orbit regulations, its key challenge is to address the demand for spectrum and the challenges of digital convergence."
 

Veena Rawat: The key trends are: increasing demand for low cost, high data rate mobile services (for example, mobile Internet, video and multimedia); converged networks-based infrastructure; rapidly evolving industry structures; relentless trend towards e-everything; increased need for privacy and security; and, managing environmental impacts.

The rapidly emerging mobile Internet economy — and the supporting infrastructure it will require — is a good example of the above trends. A key role for ITU will lie in meeting the growing demand for spectrum and orbital resources, and harmonizing spectrum to the maximum extent possible through regulations and standards. At the same time, these rules must address the needs of developing countries in order to provide the flexibility they require to introduce wireless solutions when they need them and at a cost that is manageable.

As digital convergence continues to broaden and change ICT industry structures, ITU will need participation of all old and new players in order to deliver on their needs in a responsive and timely fashion.

Managing environmental impacts is another priority, and here climate change poses a particularly serious global challenge. ICT can be part of the solution by adopting energy-efficient technologies and measures to reduce their own carbon footprint. ITU can help foster this by working closely with its members to find innovative solutions to make the ICT industry climate neutral.


Question 3

The ICT world is changing rapidly. To increase ITU’s Sector membership will be key in broadening and strengthening the Union so that it continues to meet the needs of a burgeoning ICT market. In what ways can ITU’s membership system be enhanced to attract and welcome new members from all branches of ICT — from traditional players to new market entrants — while retaining existing members across its three Sectors?

Veena Rawat: Never before have so many industry sectors embraced the potential of radiocommunications to improve their productivity, competitiveness and bottom line. For ITU, the migration to a digital economy represents an unprecedented opportunity to broaden its Sector membership.

Whether it is software companies, applications developers or IP networking firms, ITU has the responsibility to engage these new entrants by demonstrating its relevance and potential impact on their businesses.

This includes reaching out to small and medium-size enterprises in niche markets (for example, content development, animation and mobile banking), and communicating the importance of their participation in ITU activities. ITU can also share information that will help other sectors of the economy adopt ICT to become more innovative and productive.

Overall, ITU must continue to investigate creative approaches to make its membership affordable, and ensure that the needs of all its stakeholders are met in an effective and timely manner.


Question 4

In 2012, ITU will hold a World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12). What are the key issues to be discussed, and what challenges and opportunities are they likely to present for ITU?

Veena Rawat: The main priorities for WRC-12 will be to: find innovative ways to accommodate increased demand for spectrum and orbital resources; enable new technologies and services to get to market quickly and cost-effectively; provide flexibility for the use of spectrum for satellite services while ensuring protection of investment in existing infrastructure; and, change current regulations to address the convergence of radio services.

Among the challenges ITU will face: building consensus among the diverse stakeholders; ensuring the WRC-12 deliberations take into account the budget and resources consistent with ITU’s strategic and operational plan; and, ensuring staff has a good understanding of the issues and members’ expectations.

The opportunities will be far-reaching. Streamlined regulations would provide an opportunity for ITU to show its relevance and impact in advancing the digital economy at the global level and help stimulate investment in the ICT sector. They will also provide opportunities for ITU–R to increase collaboration with other ITU Sectors.


Question 5

What will be your main priorities in the next four years?

Veena Rawat: As Thomas Edison aptly observed, “There is no substitute for hard work.” That has been, and will continue to be the hallmark of my career. My priorities during the next four years will be:

Meeting stakeholders’ expectations: Understanding the needs and expectations of our client community is paramount. This requires striking a balance between the requirements of a United Nations agency, its Member States and the competition-driven needs of private sector participants. This can be best achieved by frequent consultation with all parties, including face-to-face meetings with chief technology officers (CTOs) and chief executive officers (CEOs).

Collaboration and partnership: The extensive knowledge available in the ITU–R can be shared with ITU–T to continue to develop coordinated programmes and activities that address emerging areas such as green ICT, network security, smart grids and intelligent transportation services. ITU–R is also well positioned to share its knowledge and best practices with ITU–D to help developing countries build capacity and implement new technologies and services. As well, it will be essential to explore and expand partnerships with organizations outside ITU membership.

Improving access to orbital resources: ITU can continue to improve the satellite coordination process and access to the orbit by:

  • improving the tools used for coordination;

  • increasing transparency;

  • continuing to work with administrations to improve the accuracy of data;

  • facilitating increased access to the orbit for Member States who are new entrants or those who have made limited use of the orbit to date;

  • continuing to improve efficiency in the use of orbit by encouraging implementation of ITU–R Recommendations.


Question 6

ITU’s “federal” structure — made up of the General Secretariat, the Radiocommunication Sector, the Telecommunication Standardization Sector and the Telecommunication Development Sector — requires collaboration and team spirit. What do you view as the fundamental components of successful teamwork?

Veena Rawat: The fundamental components of teamwork are establishing clear goals, principled leadership and buy-in from team members. Within ITU, this teamwork will be crucially dependant on building relationships among the three Bureaux heads and with the General Secretariat. Fostering this cooperative spirit will require making time for each other and having an agreed-upon framework for both formal and informal discussions.

As lines of business and demarcation become more blurred through the rapid pace of changes in the marketplace, there will be a continuing need to adjust how we collaborate. Trust and confidence will be indispensable attributes to achieve our common goals.


Question 7

It is often said that good people are the backbone of any high-performing business activity or organization. What is your message to staff with whom you will work to implement the strategic plan and goals that will be approved by the Plenipotentiary Conference for the period 2012–2015, within the budget that will also be decided by this conference for the same years?

Veena Rawat: My message to staff will relate to the following for the success of ITU.

I am a firm believer in open and clear communications, mutual respect and helping staff to understand the value of teamwork and how their work contributes to the success of ITU.

  "I want to ensure that the staff continues to have the required skills and motivation to meet stakeholder expectations and deliver on activities aligned with the strategic plan."
 

ITU’s success in managing spectrum and orbital resources and stakeholders’ expectations over the coming years will depend on a clear understanding of the objectives and expected results of the strategic plan, the goals and challenges of each ITU Sector, and how these Sectors interact. This includes identifying opportunities for constructive partnerships, coordinated activities and collaboration among players within and outside ITU. It will also require staying abreast of the rapid and complex changes occurring in technologies, networks, services and convergence.

I would listen to staff views and needs and will do my part to help them to understand their respective roles and responsibilities, and their accountability to deliver on time and within budget.


Biography

Dr Veena Rawat is President of the Communications Research Centre, Canada’s largest public sector ICT research and commercialization institution (400 staff and an annual budget of 50 million Canadian dollars). She oversees Canada’s participation in numerous bilateral and multilateral ICT research partnerships.

Dr Rawat immigrated to Canada from India. She was the first woman to graduate with a PhD in electrical engineering from Queen’s University, Canada. During her 35 years of work experience, she managed major programmes in spectrum/telecommunication planning, engineering and regulations development for terrestrial and space services. She has been at the centre of major policy and regulatory decisions to bring new communication services to domestic and international levels, and in strengthening linkages with national and international organizations.

She has led many delegations and negotiations at ITU–R and other international forums. She currently chairs the ITU study group for satellite services. In 2003, she chaired the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-03) for which she was awarded an ITU Gold medal.

An internationally recognized expert in spectrum management and ICT technologies, Dr Rawat has been a keynote and invited speaker at over 100 domestic and international events since 1995. She has received many honours, including the Canadian Woman of the Year in Communications in 2004.

 

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