Let It Go
I’m writing this blog on a plane to Malmö, Sweden, for the European UTC’s (EUTC) conference. It’s the first time I’ve been to a Scandinavian country and, I am ashamed to admit, had not realized that Malmö was so close to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a mere 20-30-minute train or cab ride from a hub airport/huge city in one country to another in an entirely different country. While we have a couple of examples of cities very near our northern and southern borders in the U.S., I don’t think we can claim this type of geographical closeness in terms of getting from one city to another that easily (editor’s note, I cannot completely verify this sense). It’s one reason I love to visit Europe, and it’s also the reason I sometimes feel slightly discombobulated by it (lesson learned about always keeping your passport with you!). We have vast horizons of countryside in the U.S. and pass through many states with only small changes in culture. Yet it is so different traveling an hour or two one way and finding yourself in an entirely different culture, speaking a different language and traveling an hour or two the opposite way and finding the same thing.
Despite my slight culture shock, I am very excited to visit Malmö, albeit briefly because: 1) when I left my girls I could explain where I was going by referencing its similarity to the kingdom of Arendelle in Frozen, which made them feel a little bit better about my leaving (although my six-year-old asked if I could bring her an Elsa doll…); 2) I get to be in the same country as the setting for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series – one of my favorite of all time and, 3) last but not least, I get to see the friends I’ve made through EUTC and hear about what’s happening in Europe from a policy and technology perspective related to the information and communications technology on which we focus.
Over the last 10 months, UTC’s and EUTC’s leaderships, including Board of Advisors Chair Dr. Andreas Breuer, have talked often as we have implemented a strategy to realign the group with the global focus of UTC on optimizing membership value and continuing to provide trusted, technical and strategic feedback to policy makers on utilities’ ICT networks. EUTC has done a great job of being active in front of the European Commission in a strategic way and of instituting some governance changes to engage more of its membership in these activities as well as in the content and planning of their annual conference. The conference’s host utility is E.On, and I look forward to hearing about what they’re doing on the ground in Sweden to facilitate innovative customer relationships underpinned by their ICT networks.
The bottom line is, EUTC is going through a change this year that will result in a better, more focused, more valuable group in the future. With a new association management team, Kellen, we have made strides on membership value and engagement even in the face of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) privacy regulations that limit our ability to communicate about EUTC. Over the next few months, we’ll be hiring a Director of EUTC who will serve as a liaison with the industry and subject matter expert who can both backfill and move forward when the volunteer leadership is busy with their own jobs back at their utilities. This is a crucial piece as a reinvigorated EUTC engages with UTC and UTC America Latina in worldwide forums such as the International Telecommunication Union to spotlight the need for utilities to be eligible for a global spectrum allocation, among other important initiatives.
I’ll sign off now as the plane is starting to lull me to sleep, but before I succumb, I need to figure out how to say hello and goodbye in Swedish…is it just “allo” for the greeting – seems like maybe, but I really do not know! Must do a quick Google search as soon as we land. Or I could just let it go. Until we meet again…