YP Committee: Encouraging Young Professionals to Become Members and to Participate in Activities of the IEEE Communications Society: Interview with Nury Ramirez, Chair of the YP Standing Committee

By Nury Ramirez - Chair of the YP Standing Committee and Stefano Bregni - Vice-President for Member and Global Activities, Editor of the Global Communications Newsletter

This is the ninth and last in the series of articles, 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 Nury Ramirez, Chair of the IEEE ComSoc Young Professionals (YP) Standing Committee.

Nury currently works as a Technical Project Leader with Continental Automotive, Guadalajara, Mexico. She worked for many years at Intel, where she held several Program Manager positions in R&D at the Data Center Group. She has also held positions at Cisco. She is just finishing her term as Chair of ComSoc’s Young Professional Committee and she is the current Chair of the IEEE Guadalajara Section (Mexico) and has held several positions in her young volunteer career at IEEE. Nury received her Bachelor in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Ecuador and the Master’s in Quality Engineering and Management from ITESO in Mexico.

Stefano: Hello Nury! Let us begin by explaining what the Young Professionals Committee is in the IEEE Communications Society.

Nury: The Young Professionals affinity group of IEEE is dedicated to foster the professional development of young members. We want all senior students and graduate students’ members to expand their professional and global network, elevate their professional image, and give back to their community. Having this IEEE MGA affinity group within ComSoc is vital as it works on grooming the next generation of leaders and enables them to build global professional networks.

Stefano: Do you feel that the Young Professional group is important among ComSoc priorities?

Nury: Yes, it is. Since the beginning of this term, President Khaled Letaief and the VP MGA Nei Kato stated the importance of student and young professional involvement to vitalize the global activities in ComSoc given the fact that membership has declined in recent years. Here is where the YP can help by bringing innovative ways to keep engaged the recent graduate students or YPs and bring value for them in ComSoc.

Stefano: How many Young Professionals groups exist within ComSoc?

Nury: There is no formal process to create a YP group in ComSoc. The YP membership is granted automatically to all IEEE members who have had their first major graduation within the last 15 years. So if there is an IEEE ComSoc chapter within the Sections, it is expected this is formed by YPs too. Currently, we have 358 ComSoc Chapters among all IEEE regions, with 4900 Young Professionals part of them.

Stefano: How does ComSoc reach out to Young Professionals?

Nury: In the past, we interacted with YPs only at the events organized by ComSoc’s flagship conferences ICC and GLOBECOM. Since 2018, we started the promotion and organization of YP events also at regional student and young professional conferences for two main reasons: first, to promote the purpose and goals of the YP affinity group; second, to identify and recruit volunteers who can develop activities and the ComSoc membership within their respective Section Chapters. In particular, Regions 8 and 10 have mostly benefited from this.

Meet-ups, job fairs, technological and experience-based panels have been the preferred formats for the activities, where YPs can network and listen from each other ideas of events or activities that will keep them interested and engaged in ComSoc.

During 2019, the focus has been extended to other important ComSoc conferences such as WCNC, SECON, INFOCOM, and soon LATINCOM.

Stefano: What are the needs of YPs, which you have identified through these two years of service as YP Committee Chair?

Nury: ComSoc does not offer specific “benefits” to students or YPs. YPs have stated at informal lobby chats that they would like to have tangible benefits unique for them, like other societies have. On the other hand, they are interested in content for industry practitioners, who are not deeply involved in any post degree program yet.

That is why the YP committee offers the IEEE ComSoc Best YP Awards, for both the academic and industry areas. The most recent call for nominations closed on September 30. The awardees are usually announced during the ComSoc YP event at GLOBECOM. This year it will take place in Hawaii, USA.

It is worth mentioning that we expect a higher number of students to be part of ComSoc in the years to come, since the student membership fee is now only $1 dollar. This challenges us to provide a more innovative value proposition to keep them in the organization when they have to renew as members and the membership fee is by far higher. One thing I would like to propose is the consideration of a tiered membership, where the recent graduates (maybe up to five years) could pay a lower membership fee until they reach full membership.

Stefano: What about the committee members working with you to organize YP activities?

Nury: The ComSoc YP committee is formed by a diverse and enthusiastic group of five people that plan and organize the activities I have mentioned before. They are: Dr. Angela Sara Cacciapuoti, Dr. Imran Shafique, Dr. Richard Cziva, MSc. Laura Ruiz and MSc. Shashank Gaur. We have also identified other volunteers who are not part of the committee formally, but do support our activities: Esmeralda Asurza, Ahmed Farouk and Zied Bouida.

Stefano: What other recent initiatives run by the YP would you like to highlight briefly?

Nury: This year, we started the Young Professionals Webinars with significant support and partnership of the Educational Committee of ComSoc led by Fabrizio Granelli and his staff. These webinars are offered at no cost to bring updates and key information on the hottest topics that are of interest to this community. The differentiation is that the speakers are industry practitioners; traditional ComSoc webinars are more prone to academy professionals rather than recent graduated students, so these webinars are intended to attract members from the industry to find value within ComSoc.

Another key initiative is the support of ComSoc chapters for their local events. Chapter coordinators can propose any event or conference to engage students at their last terms to see YP as a space for them within ComSoc. During these events, some volunteers have committed to replicate this on their Sections.