Vying to be president of the ITA
Vying to be president of the ITA May 2010
Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk
In this presidential election year, three candidates are nominated to run for the top job of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association - ITA-AITES. All candidates are currently Vice Presidents of the Association and are nominated by the candidate's member nation tunnelling association. The ballot is cast by the national associations and societies of the 55 member nations and by the member nation's representative to the 36th Annual General Assembly that is hosted this year by member nation Canada in Vancouver (May 14-20).
To the post each candidate would bring specific expertise, qualities and advantage. Each is well qualified for the position and each has long track records of involvement with the ITA and with their own member nation associations. Either one is set to bring a new emphasis to the steering of the Association with a continuation of the foundation work accomplished by each of the Association's past Presidents and by the global broadening and awareness of ITA achieved by the current President, Martin Knights of the UK.
Each has stated how they would manage the work and development of the ITA over the coming three years of their presidency if elected.

Eivind Grøv – Norway

Grøv is currently Research Manager Rock- and Soil Mechanics and Professor II at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (SINTEF) and is nominated by the Norwegian Tunnelling Society (NFF). In seeking the presidency, Grøv suggests that he would "deal with the following challenges in order to ensure that ITA remains '….the unquestionable leader in the use of underground space…'." The Working Groups are a core activity of ITA, he says, and that the ITA's cycle of collecting, processing, and disseminating information is "strong, but sensitive. Strong in the sense that the WGs attract the attention of lots of people every year; sensitive in that the outcome may not always correspond to expectations. The challenge is to ensure that the WGs are robust, with frequent and timely deliveries and activities that meet the needs of the industry."
The need to attract individuals and businesses is another suggested challenge that is being met partly with introduction of Prime Sponsors. "In a dynamic world, ITA has to mature with the needs of the industry and identify a wide range of ways of continuing to be an attractive organization for our diverse industry."
Another ambition for Grøv, is to "increase the scale of our influence in society. We need tools that will enable us to reach out to the general public, as well as to politicians and decision-makers; people who we need to influence to promote the construction of tunnels and the use of underground space. The message that ITA possesses the expertise that could provide viable solutions to many urban and social planning problems needs to be promoted."

Yann Leblaise – France

Leblaise is currently Global Director, Infrastructure within the global engineering group Arcadis and is nominated by AFTES, the French Tunneling and Underground Space Association. Leblais has been active in AFTES for more than 25 years and his active Involvement in ITA-AITES dates back to 1993. His letter of nomination from AFTES states that: “In parallel to his dedication to the tunnelling community, Yann Leblais has acquired extensive experience in the management of national and international professional bodies. He served as President of the French Federation of Engineering Consultancy Firms (Syntec-Ingénierie) from 2001 to 2005 and as president of the European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations (EFCA) from 2005 to 2008. In addition, Leblais has combined professional engineering practice in design and construction management for tunnelling with contract-based project management. We believe his broad experience and high level of motivation are clear indications of his commitment. AFTES, a co-founder of ITA-AITES, offers its enthusiastic support for his candidature for the presidency."
As the first Asian candidate for ITA presidency, Lee suggests that: "Since I grew up and was educated in Asia and earned higher degrees and spent time studying in western countries, I may understand the cultural differences reasonably well. Taking advantage of this experience, if elected to be the president of ITA, I will try my best in leading the ITA in HARMONY; harmony between the western and the eastern; harmony between the aged and the young; harmony between the active and the newly joined member nations, etc."

In-Mo Lee – South Korea

Lee earned his B.S. degree (with honors) in Civil Engineering from Seoul National University and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geotechnical Engineering from Ohio State University in the USA. He is currently a professor of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at Korea University,holding the post since 1988 and is nominated by the Korean Tunnelling Association. As President of the KTA from May 2006 to April 2008, Lee chaired the Organizing Committee of the ITA World Tunnel Congress and 32nd General Assembly that was held in Seoul in April 2006. Lee has been active in promoting the ITA, its works and support activities, among the many nations of Asia that are already members of the Association and those yet to join. His candidacy brings a new dimension to the work and potential development of the international association. The fourth current Vice President of ITA who was also eligible to run, Piergiorgio Gasso of Italy, cited shortage of time for declining a run for president.
The result of the election will be announced at the Wednesday morning session of the General Assembly and the new President will be formerly welcomed and will take over the hot seat from President Knights as the closing item on the agenda of the 36th Assembly.
In his final newsletter to ITA members, Knights said "ITA is about people—networking, cooperation, sharing. It’s about knowledge and innovation and quality of the industry. Education and training are increasingly a key aim of ITA, as is the promotion and awareness and interaction with those who need to know the sustainable benefits of using underground space. The combination of these four general aims is greater than the sum of each. That combination makes ITA what it is - a model that has worked well for nearly 40 years. We should take care that we adapt to the needs of the members, industry, academia, governments, owners and the public. ITA cannot stand still and cannot be a slave to the traditional organisational model of professional Associations. We have a broad reach in the industry and we have many interests to be aware of."
Ahead of welcoming the new president, Knights had some advice for his successor: “Use good judgment in what you choose to do yourself. You can quickly find you have taken on too much. Be sure to delegate and use your vice presidents well. Ensure committed support by your employer. There is often little by way of tangible return for supporting the President of the ITA but there can be a lot to gain for the supporting company. Be visible. Choose the right events to attend, and be quick to respond to suggestions. That is the way to help keep the Association vital and dynamic."
Preparing for the 36th ITA General Assembly - TunnelTalk, April 2010
ITA-WTC 2010, Vancouver, Canada

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