Sister and Related Societies: Reaching Out to a Global Community of Communications Professionals: Interview with Octavia A. Dobre, Director of Sister and Related Societies

By Octavia A. Dobre - Director of Sister and Related Societies and Stefano Bregni - Global Communications Newsletter Editor in Chief, Vice-President for Conferences

This is the second 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 Octavia A. Dobre, Director of Sister and Related Societies.

Octavia is a Professor and Research Chair at Memorial University, Canada. She is the Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Communications Letters, and has served as an editor and senior editor for other prestigious journals. She also chairs the IEEE ComSoc Signal Processing for Communications and Electronics Technical Committee, and has served as an officer for other technical committees, as well as technical co-chair of symposia at various conferences.

Bregni: Octavia, we should begin by reminding readers what are the Sister and Related Societies of ComSoc.

Dobre: The Communications Society (ComSoc), as one of the most prominent units of the IEEE, and has a long tradition of global outreach. ComSoc’s Sister and Related Societies program represents one of the vehicles for strengthening the globalization of our membership. Sister Societies are national or international professional associations with status and technical scope similar to ComSoc. On the other hand, Related Societies are complementary in technical scope, but do not overlap ComSoc’s technical orientation.

Bregni: How many are they?

Dobre: There are currently 26 Sister Societies and 10 Related Societies around the world, with which ComSoc has agreements. These include national organizations from 23 countries, along with international bodies like the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Details about these societies are available at Such a network certainly supports our globalization!

Bregni: How are relationships between ComSoc and other Societies regulated? What kinds of activities are addressed?

Dobre: The formal relationship between ComSoc and its Sister and Related Societies is established through cooperation agreements, or Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), which typically span four years. They are signed by the ComSoc President and a corresponding Sister or Related Society President. MoUs may include various elements, such as: technical co-sponsorship of conferences; submission of papers to ComSoc conferences, journals and magazines; discounted participation at ComSoc conferences; promotion of publications; and affiliate membership in ComSoc. The ComSoc’s Sister and Related Societies program is led by the Director, together with a board consisting of both members of the ComSoc’s Board of Directors and representatives of the Sisters and Related Societies. The Director reports to the ComSoc VP, Member & Global Activities (MGA), as well as to the MGA Board.

Bregni: In conclusion, would you share with us your plans going forward as Director of Sister and Related Societies?

Dobre: This year, there are 16 cooperation agreements that are expiring. Consequently, as a next step, we will be focusing on their renewal, while identifying elements that can make them more meaningful to both ComSoc and its Sister and Related Societies.

I am of the opinion that it is important to further strengthen the relationships with our Sister and Related Societies through organizing joint events, for example at ComSoc’s conferences. This will provide the opportunity for in-person discussions, potentially leading to join initiatives and closer collaborations.

Additionally, other societies are aimed to be identified, and contacts initiated. I would like to take this opportunity to invite our members to email me ( with their recommendations for potential societies with which ComSoc can connect.

We celebrate our relations with similar societies worldwide, to build a global community of communications professionals!