Europe, Middle East and Africa Region: Interview with Adlen Ksentini, Director of the EMEA Region

By Adlen Ksentini - Director of the EMEA Region and Stefano Bregni - Global Communications Newsletter Editor in Chief, Vice-President for Conferences

This is the fifth article in the series of nine, started in May 2018 and published monthly in the IEEE ComSoc Global Communications Newsletter, which covers all areas of IEEE ComSoc Member and Global Activities. In this series of articles, I introduce the Vice-President and six Directors on the Member and Global Activities Council (namely: Sister and Related Societies; Membership Services; AP, NA, LA, EMEA Regions) and the two Chairs of the Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) and Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committees. In each article, one by one they present their sector activities and plans.

In this issue, I interview Adlen Ksentini, Director of the EMEA Region.

Adlen is a ComSoc Distinguished Lecturer. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Cergy-Pontoise in 2005. From 2006 to 2016, he worked at the University of Rennes 1 as an Assistant Professor. Since March 2016, he has been working as an Assistant Professor in the Communication Systems Department of EURECOM. He has co-authored over 100 technical journal and international conference papers. He has been awarded the 2017 IEEE ComSoc Fred W. Ellersick (best IEEE Communications Magazine paper). Adlen has been acting as TPC Symposium Chair for IEEE ICC 2016/2017, IEEE GLOBECOM 2017, IEEE Cloudnet 2017 and IEEE 5G Forum 2018. He has been acting as Guest Editor for the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communication (JSAC) Series on Network Softwerization, IEEE Wireless Communications, IEEE Communications Magazine, and two issues of ComSoc MMTC Letters.

Stefano: Hello Adlen! Would you begin by outlining the main characteristics of the EMEA Region?

Adlen: The EMEA Region covers a vast geographical area stretching from Cape Town, South Africa in the South, Lisbon, Portugal, in the West, through Hammerfest, Norway, in the North, to Vladivostok, Russia in the East. The Region is served by 51 local chapters having together about one quarter of the ComSoc members worldwide. Chapters provide a local connection for our Society members. Their activities include: talks organized within the Distinguished Lecturer Tour (DLT) or Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) frameworks, social events, workshops, seminars, special events, etc.

Stefano: The current EMEA Board, which you chair, was formed not many months ago in January 2018. On what activities has it been focused so far?

Adlen: The current EMEA Board works to implement our operating plan. The Distinguished Lecturer Program (DLP) and Distinguished Speaker Program (DSP) are coordinated by Prof. Nidal Nasser from Saudi Arabia. What is important is that most of these tours were or are to be organized in areas with a rather low Com- Soc membership, such as the Middle East or Africa. We do hope to encourage more professionals from these areas to join our Society.

Stefano: Yes, I do agree that the DLP and the DSP are particularly appreciated by our members. I can say that from direct personal experience, as I have served as a DL for many years beginning i5 years ago. During my previous term as Vice President for Member Relations, we increased the budget allocated to these programs, to allow more and better DLTs in all regions. On another topic, does the EMEA Board assign Awards to recognize the contributions of outstanding members?

Adlen: Yes, this is another important facet of the EMEA activities, coordinated by Prof. Hassine Moungla from France. Our Award Program includes the EMEA Young Researcher Award and the EMEA Region Distinguished Service Award. Every year, we also select a particularly active chapter to receive the Chapter Achievement Award.

Stefano: What are the major challenges that you currently see in the EMEA Region?

Adlen: We have two major challenges: one is membership growth in our Region, and the other is increasing industry/academia cooperation. The coordination of the membership activities is the responsibility of Prof. Periklis Chatzimisios from Greece and Prof. Abdellatif Kobbane from Morocco, while the industry and academia cooperation is led by Dr. Konstantinos Samdanis from Huawei Germany. The task is not easy in the current business environment, taking into account industry restructuring, growing competition, and changes in the overall markets, but I do hope that we will be able propose working initiatives strengthening cooperation between the industry and the academia within the EMEA Region.

Stefano: What about students?

Adlen: One of the issues that I would like to address as well is ComSoc’s role in helping students in our region benefit from the advantages of membership. We are discussing with local chairs of low income countries how to launch initiatives to help students to be IEEE and ComSoc members. One of the initiatives under discussion is to include membership in the registration fees of conferences organized by IEEE in these countries.

Stefano: Any specific initiative aimed at membership development in the EMEA Region?

Adlen: To increase ComSoc membership, we are supporting the Membership and Global Activities (MGA) Contribution Award launched this year by Prof. Nei Kato (ComSoc VP MGA) and Prof. Song Guo (ComSoc MGA Director). The MGA award recognizes members who helped recruit at least 50 new Com- Soc members for their local chapter in an interval of one year and that their local chapter had a net gain of at least 50 in membership during that interval.

Regarding the activities specifically run in the EMEA Region, we are preparing a newsletter, which will be available to all EMEA Comsoc members, describing the activities in our region, in terms of scientific events, such as conferences and workshop, as well as DLT tours organized in our region.

Stefano: When will you have your next Regional Chapter Chair Congress?

Adlen: Last but not least, we are preparing the organization of the EMEA Regional Chapters Chairs Congress (RCCC). The Congress will be hosted at GLOBECOM 2018 in Abu Dhabi. The RCCC will be an excellent opportunity to share information and feedback from the Chapter Chairs, staff and ComSoc officers, on the challenges that we want to address in the EMEA Region, and how we can improve our communication with our ComSoc members to understand their needs and expectations.