PPI Corporate Prep Prorgams

Humans of IEEE PES: Damir Novosel, 2016-17 PES President

Damir Novosel, Quanta Technology, Raleigh, NC, USA

Humans of IEEE PES refers to a dedicated PES volunteer who is well known for his/her notable contribution to IEEE PES. In this issue of IEEE PES Enews, Damir Novosel, 2016-17 PES President is selected as the Humans of IEEE PES. We are very pleased to include an exclusive interview of Wayne Damir Novosel.


PES eNews:
Q1. Please give us a brief introduction about yourself.

Damir Novosel
I am president and founder of Quanta Technology, a subsidiary of Quanta Services, a Fortune 400 company. Previously, I was vice president of ABB Automation Products (responsible for ~1,200 people) and president and founder of KEMA T&D US. As one of my passions has been to support education I have been serving as an adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at North Carolina State University.
PES members and colleagues honored me to serve as President of PES, as well as the chair of the Technical Council. I am proud to be elected to the National Academy of Engineers and that I have been awarded 17 patents, published over 150 papers and contributed to 5 books.

I grew up in former Yugoslavia and came to study in the US through the Fulbright scholarship award. It was a great honor to be selected Mississippi State University Distinguished Engineering Fellow

PES eNews:
Q2. Tell us something interesting about your student life that reflects your inherent leadership and volunteer qualities.

Damir Novosel
As a student, I realized that one can accomplish much more by working with colleagues. For example, my mentor at Mississippi State University, Dr. Roger King, encouraged his students to share our research results that helped us be more innovative and efficient. That experience translated into my first job at ABB as I was able to build a team that in a short period of time developed new methods in protection and control that have resulted in numerous patents and were implemented in products. Our team always shared ideas and we created numerous joint patents, as even one person could be the main inventor, it was recognized that only by working together we were able to innovate that much. This entrepreneurship approach helped me build larger organizations that still keep that spirit.

PES eNews:
Q3. When and why did you decide to start your career in the areas of power and energy? Did you have other options? What made you motivated for selecting this option?

Damir Novosel
My parents wanted me to be a medical doctor, but I was always more interested in technology. I also liked physics and math but wanted to do something that will have practical impact and is diverse. Power and energy seemed like a good fit, as it encompasses various areas of interest – managing the electrical grid that spans a continent, requires advanced tools and communications, and knowledge of physics and math. The computers were just getting used for more and more practical applications, but I was intrigued by how the latest technology can improve managing the existing power systems. Very early in my student life, at the University of Tuzla and the University of Zagreb, I became interested in protection and control applications methodologies to operate the grid better.

PES eNews:
Q4. We want to know about your early professional career, challenges, turning points, ups and downs, any interesting example (if any). What is your evaluation about your job/profession at this stage?

Damir Novosel
An important step in my career was getting awarded a Fulbright scholarship that was the cornerstone of getting my Ph.D. and starting teaching. However, considering that I chose power and energy to do more practical work, I felt that it was necessary to start working in the industry. I was glad to get a job at ABB based on my first interview in the US.
A very important aspect of my career is being an active IEEE member. At my first PES Power System Relaying Committee meeting in May 1992, I was in awe of meeting industry legends. Thanks to IEEE, some of these legends became my mentors and friends. Participation in working groups helps me learn not only about technical issues, but also how to work with peers. Later on, chairing working groups was an invaluable experience in developing my management skills. There is a saying, “if one can manage volunteers, one can manage any group of people.” My colleagues and I have published papers and participated in conferences that have helped me better communicate what we have accomplished; which in turn has opened doors to new collaboration and business opportunities.

PES eNews:
Q5. Being a passionate volunteer, tell us about your most significant volunteer contribution. Is there any specific story behind that contribution? Do you want to mention any name behind you who served as a mentor or source of inspiration?

Damir Novosel
It is like asking me which of my kids I like more – I am proud of a number of contributions. I was lucky to have so many mentors, both in IEEE and at my work, that helped me immensely. I am always afraid to forget some names and I apologize to the ones I omit, but Arun Phadke, Jim Thorp, Roger King, Walt Elmore, Eric Udren, Alex Apostolov, Franjo Bozuta, former PES Presidents, are some that I need to mention. Dr. Phadke, Dr. Thorp, and Mr. Horowitz (all industry gurus) thought me that working together with your colleagues makes you more successful and that giving credits to your colleagues increases your reputation. However, it is not just about mentors but people that share their ideas with me and thought me a lot. Every day, I learn from my colleagues.

PES eNews:
Q6. We all know that you are very popular among the young PES volunteers as well as professionals. In your opinion, what are the most important factors to become a successful volunteer and which things should be avoided by a good volunteer?

Damir Novosel
The key is to get engaged and not be afraid to contribute, either in committees, chapters, conferences, and other initiatives. As a young volunteer, I did a paragraph on under-frequency load shedding that ended up in the PES Report – I was very proud that all these experts included my contribution. It motivated me to get more engaged and contribute further. Being a volunteer does not relieve you from the responsibility to deliver your contribution on time. It is very important to promise realistic deliverables (considering that this is volunteer work) and avoid delays as other volunteers depend on you and their time is valuable.

PES eNews:
Q7. What inspired you to run the IEEE PES President Election? Share us some interesting event during the election. What were your main agenda?

Damir Novosel
IEEE PES has been critical for my career and, it is not only that I wanted to give something back and make a difference in the industry, but it also continued to help me learn and develop my career. IEEE is uniquely positioned to provide objective technical leadership, through immense membership talent and peer-review process. As our industry is changing fast, is critical to our society and the industry.
Bruno Meyer and I were running for president-elect and, as good colleagues and friends, we jointly attended meetings to promote PES goals and emphasized that whoever wins is good for IEEE.
My agenda was to focus on:

  • Strengthen involvement of industry practitioners by increasing and communicating benefits of active participation.
  • Improve global involvement and leadership, including awareness, technical participation, and use of international meetings and chapter activities to foster cooperation.
  • Providing objective technical leadership and support for industry initiatives to respond to changing industry needs. It includes development of required standard (including some on “fast track”), and cooperation with government agencies worldwide.

I hope I delivered on my promise.

PES eNews:
Q8. You demonstrated excellent performance as a PES President. Tell us about some new initiatives taken by you.

Damir Novosel
During my tenure on the Governing Board, I am proud that we jointly accomplished several goals through “More Power to the Future” initiatives, resulting in significant global membership growth, increased industry participation by making PES more relevant to the practicing engineer, and conversion of members to volunteers:

  • Initiated reorganization of the technical committee to better serve our changing industry and promoted active global engagement at technical committees.
  • Spearheaded formation of the IEEE PES Industry Technical Support Leadership Committee (IT LC) to better support and cooperate with governments, regulators, and other industry organizations globally on technical issues related to power and energy (e.g. NERC, FERC, DOE, Australian parliament delegation, European Public Policy Initiative, UN panel). ITS LC has been facilitating development of important documents, tutorials, and presentations. Recently, the ITS LC has also initiated and lead implementation of corporate engagement initiatives (e.g. ComEd, ISO NE, VELCO, Quanta Technology) to encourage member companies to support employees to join and participate in various IEEE initiatives. In return, IEEE offers training, engagement opportunities, and more.
  • Focused on expanding IEEE PES global engagement, including industry participation at conferences. For example, to build on the success of the T&D Conference and Exposition, we have been expanding that model to regions 9 and 10. Also, in cooperation with current PES President, Frank Lambert, our chapter volunteers have been organizing numerous annual/bi-annual industry workshops to promote industry engagement.
  • Spearheaded formation of the Executive Advisory Council, with VP of New Initiatives, Shay Bahramirad, to engage executives in the work of IEEE PES.
  • Supported Woman in Power Initiatives through engaging women in leadership positions.
  • Enhanced cooperation with Standards Association (e.g. creating joint tutorials on standards, presented at global events) and help in developing standards on fast track (e.g. PMU-related standards)
  • Enhanced cooperation with other societies (e.g. joint PELS/PES eGrid conference)

PES eNews:
Q9. Mention one or two of your intended initiatives that you could not complete during your tenure as PES president. As a PES President what were the biggest challenges you faced?

Damir Novosel
One glaring issue is that IEEE PES receives a proportionally significantly lower elevation of IEEE Fellows than some other societies. PES is the second largest society, but the number of Fellows elevated is consistently behind three other societies (Computer, Communications and Signal Processing). That difference is significant and needs to be addressed by IEEE as it undermines our membership efforts and recognition. I have not managed to change it during my tenure, but I hope that efforts will help in the future.

Assuring active industry participation is not easy considering competing priorities. The challenge is to communicate the benefits of active PES engagement not only to existing and potential members, but also to the management. While PES has been doing well, overall IEEE membership has been declining, particularly from the industry. I was hoping that IEEE leadership will take advantage of the success and experience of PES leadership.

PES eNews:
Q10. How do you measure your success/achievement as a PES President?

Damir Novosel
There are quantitative metrics that show the PES growth and membership engagement (e.g. membership growth to ~40,000 members). However, I am very proud of the teams that I have worked with and their commitment to PES. All the accomplishments that I mentioned are the result of the amazing efforts by IEEE PES volunteers and staff. I was fortunate to serve on the amazing Governing Board, which fully embodied the definition of teamwork as “wanting and helping your colleagues to succeed”, and be supported by dedicated staff. The success is measured by our team accomplishments.

PES eNews:
Q11. How do you measure the growth and impact of PES activities with respect to global demand during the last 20 years? Do you think that PES needs more industry engagement, especially in chapters located outside USA? If yes, how can we achieve it?

Damir Novosel
PES has accomplished so many things in the last 20 years responding to the industry and R&D needs, thanks to the membership, but also the leadership, including, former PES presidents who have spearheaded so many important initiatives. PES absolutely needs more industry engagement, particularly in regions 8-10, where it is still perceived as academic. The strength of IEEE is in having academia, utilities/ISOs, vendors, regulators, researchers, and others working together and learning from each other. It is in our joint interest to continue engaging industry as it is beneficial to the industry to work with academia and vice-versa. As identified before we have undertaken some very important initiatives to improve industry engagement. Although it is important to identify new initiatives, the key is to continue those successful initiatives.

PES eNews:
Q12. Can we expect PES to be the largest society in the future (in terms of membership)? If yes when? How do you compare the member satisfaction in PES in comparison to other societies in terms of member benefits, member engagement and chapter activities?

Damir Novosel
I do not think we should be competing with other societies. I would be very glad if other societies would grow as PES does. PES growth shows the value our society provides through industry-leading initiatives by our diverse, global membership. PES has been very successful, and I would dare to say the gold standard for IEEE in terms of member benefits, member engagement and chapter activities. However, as we bring new ideas and solutions, we should continue growing our membership by enhancing the value of participation, particularly to the industry members.

PES eNews:
Q13. In the next 30 years, that is by 2050, you want to dream IEEE PES in what position? I mean what major changes are expected and to withstand those changes what additional efforts are required?

Damir Novosel
As society energy sustainability and decarbonization targets require reliable, resilient, and cost-effective delivery of electrical energy, technical role of IEEE PES is becoming more and more important, including developing reports, guides, and standards, to guide technology deployment and industry priorities and address changes.
We need to get more volunteers engaged and, as issues, products, and priorities are global, continue globalization of PES and strengthen cooperation between academia and industry. By expanding our communities globally, our members and industry benefit from the sharing of regional perspectives, challenges, priorities, and successes.
We should help address the fact that so much word is still without electrical power and that we need to continue developing smart cities and smart grids.

PES eNews:
Q14. Any other issues that you want to share, and we missed in our interview.

Damir Novosel
I am very passionate about the young generation and PES should continue attracting students and young professionals to build a strong foundation for or the betterment of the society and our industry.

Interview Coordination
Dr. Shaikh Fattah
Editor, PES Enews Update