Member and Global Activities: Improving Service and Diversity: Interview with Ana Garcia Armada, IEEE ComSoc Vice President for MGA by Stefano Bregni, Global

By Ana Garcia Armada - Vice President for Member and Global Activities and Stefano Bregni - Global Communications Newsletter Editor-in-Chief, Director Conference Operations

This article continues the series of nine interviews to the Officers of the IEEE ComSoc Member and Global Activities (MGA) Council, which is published every month on the Global Communications Newsletter.

In this series of articles, I introduce the Vice-President and the six Directors on the MGA Council (namely: Member Services, Industry Outreach, and AP, NA, LA, EMEA Regions), as well as the two Chairs of the Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) and Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committees. In each interview, one by one they present their sector activities and plans.

In this issue, I interview Ana Garcia Armada, Vice President for Member and Global Activities. This is the second time I interview Ana. I have interviewed her also in 2019, when she was serving as Chair of the IEEE ComSoc Standing Committee on Women in Communications Engineering (WICE).

Ana received her Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic University of Madrid in February 1998. She is currently Professor at University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain, where she is leading the Communications Research Group. She has been visiting scholar at Stanford University, Bell Labs and University of Southampton. She has coordinated more than 40 national and international research projects as well as 20 contracts with the industry. She has published around 200 papers in international journals and conference proceedings and she holds four patents. She has served on the TPC of more than 40 conferences and she has been part of the organizing committee of IEEE Globecom 2019, IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC) Spring 2019, Fall 2018, and Spring 2018, among others. Most recently, she has been General Co-Chair of IEEE GLOBECOM 2021, Madrid, Spain.

Stefano: Hello Ana! Your term as VP MGA has just begun few months ago. Would you like to summarize your plans for this two-year term in a nutshell?

Ana: It is a great pleasure and honour to serve as the Vice-President of MGA of IEEE ComSoc in 2022-2023. We have set an ambitious strategic plan for the MGA team with focus on the following four key aspects:

  • Improving our services to ComSoc Members and the perceived value of belonging to ComSoc

  • Improving and leveraging diversity in ComSoc

  • Increasing membership and retention rates

  • Empowering chapters by improving funding and support

To gain a better understanding on how to best serve our members in both academia and industry, we will take advantage of information technology tools (for example, to extract relevant information from how our members explore the various services and content in the ComSoc website).

In addition, we will work more closely with our Chapter leadership and their membership to identify their needs and support their work. Our team will closely examine the available data to understand the strengths and weaknesses in different regions, and focus on actions in those regions where there is a higher potential for growth.

Stefano: It sounds good. Let us present those goals in some more detail. What about better and new services for Members?

Ana: The first Membership Value Research Conference (MVRC), a 6-month long research project that culminated in December 2021 with a meeting at Globecom, has provided some initial ideas to improve existing services and start new ones.

We are now defining how to capitalize on this work and begin implementation. There are very interesting ideas that came from the MRVC and have been reinforced with discussion in the ComSoc management retreat. Many of them are focused on students and young professionals, and we are defining a student portal, student ambassadors to enhance ComSoc’s presence at universities and a career center to provide job opportunities and training. Also very relevant are mentoring activities.

Recognizing that our content, and in particular video, is a key asset to engage with young engineers working in the communications industry, we hope to use video and virtual offerings to reach new audiences of engineers. We are closely working with the Online Content Board to define a content strategy for the Media Center and continue with the following phases of its implementation.

Stefano: You mentioned diversity. Would you be more specific about that?

Ana: ComSoc should seek to achieve a better balance in terms of gender, geographical region, working sector, age, and several other dimensions. We are preparing an action plan to improve diversity, by creating a welcoming environment and providing guidance and opportunities for these groups to thrive. We will support and work closely with the Women in Communications Engineering (WICE) and Young Professionals (YP) standing committees to achieve this crucial goal.

Stefano: Chapters are the local units of ComSoc, where Members can meet and which organize activities to meet the needs of Members locally. What is your plan for empowering Chapters?

Ana: ComSoc Chapters are our best instrument to understand and better serve our members. We will ease and potentiate their role by understanding their needs with help of the Regional Directors, providing fora for sharing ideas and best practices, and facilitating less complex procedures for funding and recognition.

We will provide them training and we have placed the communication and support to Chapters in a prominent place in our plans.

Therefore, to emphasize our effort, we like to name this year as “the Year of the Chapter.” We are also working to ease the procedures involved in the Distinguished Lecturer Program (DLP) that connects renowned communications technology experts with ComSoc Chapters.

Stefano: Would you like to mention the team of Volunteers and Staff that will work on such ambitious plans?

Ana: We have a wonderful team of ComSoc volunteers and staff who are excited with the opportunity to advance towards these goals.

Our regional leadership consists of Tomoaki Otsuki as the Director of the Asia/Pacific Region, Luca Foschini as the Director of the Europe, Middle-East & Africa Region, Andres Navarro as the Director of the Latin-America Region, and Fawzi Behmann as the Director of the North-America Region. Moreover, Peiying Zhu is serving as the Director of Industry Outreach, Ricardo Veiga as the Director of Member Services, Nury Gabriela Ramirez Cely as the Chair of the WICE standing committee and Periklis Chatzimisios as the Chair of the YP standing committee. I am grateful to all of them.

Among ComSoc Staff, I wish to mention Trish Jaraicie, Marketing & Membership Director, and Cindy Tiritilli, Membership Manager.

Stefano: Excellent! How shall we conclude our conversation?

Ana: I am deeply honoured to serve the ComSoc community and committed to listen to anybody with ideas on how we can improve the service to our members. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about our plans.