Bilel Jamoussi, Chief Study Groups Department, TSB

Bilel Jamoussi, Chief Study Groups Department, TSB

  • A PhD in Computer Engineering from Penn State And have over 22 Granted, and have patents filed with the US in a variety of fields.

 

Podcast

Overview

The world today runs on data and information. This data and information need to transmitted from place to place in seconds. Transmitting this data all over the world needs some Telecommunication standards. Phone numbers that we dial every day and the usage of internet requires certain protocols to be standard at the scale of the world. Standards make this possible.

Today’s guest, Bilel Jamoussi, is an engineer, a leader, a diplomat. He discusses his journey from Tunisia to Geneva. He talks about his time at Nortel and applying for patents and coming up with standards. He also discusses the ITU and his time as the Chief of Study Groups Department.

00:39- About Bilel Jamoussi

  • Bilel Jamoussi an engineer, a leader, a diplomat originally from Tunisia.
  • A PhD in Computer Engineering from Penn State And have over 22 Granted, and have patents filed with the US in a variety of fields.
  • Worked in the telco industry for over 15 years with companies like Bell and Nortel, a member of the IEEE and currently working for the ITU, one of the UN agencies based out of Geneva.

01:28- How did you achieve a versatile and unique set of skills?

  • Was the youngest of six children in a family that had a modest income and looks at excellence in everything we do as a prerequisite in our life, and especially success in education.
  • President of Tunisia at the time was Bourguiba who really put most of the budget of the country in education, so education system at the time was one of the best.
  • A scholarship allowed me to gain this access to the Penn State University and to study computer engineering.
  • In Tunisia, we are usually bilingual. But being bilingual is something that you have to learn if you’re going overseas to study in a non-French or Arabic-speaking school.

06:01- What are standards, and what draws you to them?

  • My encounter with standard was accidental. As I was building product Nortel Networks, I realized that they have to adhere to standard. But then I realized the standard was deficient in certain aspects.
  • I came up with a solution that is better, and we filed the patent, which was my first granted patent in the year 2000. So, I learned the importance of standards of patents and R&D all in one go.
  • I rang bells at Nortel about a new Internet protocol and that we should start implementing it immediately. So, we implemented this in a prototype and took it back to the next meeting of the standard. And it had a huge impact in the market.
  • I was quickly promoted to be the Director of standards for the entire company. I didn’t all the management and soft skills, so I picked up all kinds of management courses or books.

22:10- What is ITU?

  • The International Telecommunication Union is a specialized agency of the United Nations for information and communication technologies, created in 1865.
  • ITU has evolved with time from International Telegraph Union to be the International Telephony union, and now it’s International Telecommunication Union.
  • It’s important to have international standards that run at a scale of the whole world. The video coding that we’re using today is based on an ITU standard because 80% of internet traffic is video.

24:19- How did you get to ITU?

  • In 2009 Nortel was going through chapter 11 and I had there always been a longing to be closer to Tunisia where most of my family was.
  • I applied for a director level position in at the ITU Geneva and after doing the interviews and so on, they finally offered me the position of the chief of study groups department.
  • It was a big change to go from private sector in Canada and the US, as a director there, to be a director in a UN system. All the monetary encouragement to staff that exist in the private sector, they don’t exist in the UN system.
  • But The impact is a global. Once the standard is issued by the ITU 193 member states can adopt it or make it a national standard. Recently, World Telecom Standards assembly resolved on harmonizing the emergency number in Africa.

32:17- What are your biggest learnings?

  • Patience is important. Let the members discuss and give them the space and the platform, enable that environment for dialogue to be able to reach good outcome.
  • At Nortel I learned not to judge quickly but to listen. Listening and asking questions, instead of sometimes being confrontational.
  • When hiring people, it’s important to find that intersection of the skills and talent of the person, the organization lead, and the passion.

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Profile

  • Bilel Jamoussi an engineer, a leader, a diplomat originally from Tunisia.
  • A PhD in Computer Engineering from Penn State And have over 22 Granted, and have patents filed with the US in a variety of fields.
  • Worked in the telco industry for over 15 years with companies like Bell and Nortel, a member of the IEEE and currently working for the ITU, one of the UN agencies based out of Geneva.

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