The IEC Affiliate Mentoring Programme offers a platform for the IEC community to share knowledge in standardization and conformity assessment. Under the aegis of the IEC Affiliate Country Programme, affiliate countries learn from the experience of IEC Members by establishing customized objectives that they can achieve together.
The IEC Mentoring Programme offers an opportunity for members to share information with affiliate countries and support their engagement in international standardisation. Participants define their objectives prior to the launch of the partnership and have the autonomy to determine the most suitable approach to adopt in order to achieve these objectives.
In the past two years, three mentorship agreements have been signed within the framework of the IEC Affiliate Mentoring Programme:
- The National Committee (NC) of Australia and the National Electrotechnical Committee (NEC) of Cambodia
- The NC of Brazil and the NEC of the Dominican Republic
- The NC of the United Kingdom and the NEC of Namibia
Since the launch of the Programme in 2013, 17 partnerships have been concluded.
Empowering affiliate countries
The IEC Affiliate Mentoring Programme is a two-year partnership that offer an in-depth immersion into IEC technical work. The aim is to guide and reinforce the affiliate country’s National Electrotechnical Committee, increase their stakeholder engagement and better understand the IEC standardization process.
According to Oliver Hateley, BSI Senior Policy Manager, “The UK has a long-track record of standards development, and we want to share our experience and expertise to help other NCs build their capacity and capability to participate within the international standards system.”
Fabián Yaksic, the NC President for Brazil agrees. “Being able to share with professionals from developing countries our experience in the standardization processes is very important, because it allows them to see how to mobilize their professionals, in the processes of the development or revision of standards, how to take advantage of this important source of knowledge, how to achieve their greater participation in these processes.”
Tailored to the needs of affiliate countries
The IEC Affiliate Mentoring Programme understands that national and regional requirements can impact the implementation of IEC Standards. For this reason, the programme considers the specific requirements of the affiliate country and proposes a mentor that can understand them and help achieve the specific objectives of the mentee.
As notes Clare Hobern, NC Secretary for Australia, “When mentoring another country, the most important thing is to ensure that we are providing support where it is needed and asked for while respecting that working styles and approaches to standards development can differ from country to country.”
The programme also seeks to match countries with similar backgrounds. According to Juan Manuel Hernandez Zarate, NC Assistant Secretary for Mexico, “We were a natural fit because Mexico and Ecuador have similar customs, speak the same language and Ecuador even faced the similar challenges as Mexico when we first began our participation in the IEC.”
Bruno Berken, former NC Secretary for France agrees. “After the successful mentoring programme with Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal was the natural second step for us. Both our historical and cultural heritage led us to have many French stakeholders present in Senegal and when the Senegalese NEC asked for a mentor, our answer was obviously positive.”
Strengthening the IEC community
While the IEC Affiliate Mentoring Programme brings tangible benefits to the affiliate country, it also helps to strengthen the IEC community. Stronger participation by affiliate countries within the IEC community leads to greater diversity and the ability to develop standards that satisfy the requirements of a large number of countries.
According to Hateley, “The benefits of the mentoring programme for our NC are twofold: firstly, it provides us with a unique insight into standards development in another country and how international standards are viewed by another user-base; secondly, in the longer-term, having strong participation of affiliates like Namibia and greater diversity in the IEC system as a whole will lead to better quality IEC deliverables.”
For many of the IEC representatives, they were able to gain real benefits from the programme. As Christian Gabriel, IEC NC Secretary for Austria notes, “Besides getting more visibility for your NC you will foster the understanding of the world of electrotechnical standardization, and you will pave the way for more bilateral dialogues. This in terms of business, lobbying and friendship.”
Berken highlights the benefits that the programme brings to the NCs in terms of networking opportunities. He recounted a story about an IEC TC 31 mirror committee meeting in France which included the participation of representatives from their mentee, Côte d’Ivoire. “When the meeting started, we had, as usual, only 5 participants in the meeting room. But, as the participants messaged their colleagues that there were experts present from Côte d’Ivoire, the experts who were not in attendance changed their plans and joined... By the end of the meeting, more than 30 French experts showed up with the intention to exchange their carte de visite with our African friends and to start networking with them.”
He concludes, “It is an important step in the exchange of good practices with a fellow NC or affiliate and that relation will last forever. We believe that the future of the IEC relies on its capacity to develop its network in as many countries as possible.” Hobern agrees. “Becoming a mentor is a really great way to look beyond your national borders and understand how the IEC can make impact in all corners of the world.”
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