Georges Klepfisch, the former chairman of the board of directors of the NBN, retired in 2020. Just before the whole of Belgium was locked up by corona. Meanwhile, we are 2 years on and we would have loved to have this fascinating personality speak one last time in this farewell interview.
A graduate in structural engineering, he started his career in 1977 at the collective research center of the construction industry (WTCB). He worked there as a consultant in heating and energy. In 1990, he co-founded the Belgian center for home automation (BCDI). Here he was already introduced to international standards. As the person responsible for certification in the construction sector, he first came into contact with the Bureau for Standardization. In 2005, he became director at NBN as well as chairman of the Supreme Council for Standardization. Finally, in 2014, he was appointed chairman of the NBN.
Georges: "For me, that was a very nice period because I had the opportunity to work with CEO Johan Haelterman. The NBN has progressed tremendously under his leadership. I immediately had a good human connection with him. We complemented each other well. So we worked together to be better represented as a small country in the world of international standardization. Because even though we are a country of experts, that is not well known. We also put our collective research centers on the international standardization map. As a result, we currently have a small but balanced voice internationally. One that is taken into account. For me, these are great accomplishments."
Georges: "Direct contributions are always very modest. Because the standardization process is a democratic process. It provides a foundation based on compromises and agreements. Therefore, my goal was not to make personal contributions to the standardization process, but rather to put Belgian standardization on the map. And to give as many people as possible the desire to become experts."
Georges: "We have grown from a classic, old-fashioned organisation into a highly computerized Organisation. We have put a tremendous amount of effort into ICT. There are few organizations that do it better. Our small team has a lot of expertise. The tools we use are of the highest world class. We have also worked hard on marketing. The NBN has become a more commercial Organisation . One that is much more visible and accessible, promoting standardization across industries in Belgium. With increased customer satisfaction as a result."
Georges: "Standards are especially important to trade without restrictions and to protect individuals. They serve the common good. Standards are a compromise that the whole society accepts. The more complex our world becomes, the more important standards become."
Georges: "Without standards, you simply cannot bring new products to the (international) market. Standardization is pro-competitive. Thanks to standards, we have an abundance of quality and safe products and services at a competitive price."
Georges: "I think the NBN should work especially on the user-friendliness of standards. Even smaller companies, individuals and consumers should be able to read them and thus work according to best practices. That is why it is important that they are written in a clear, understandable language. We also need to make our Belgian voice even better heard internationally. Fortunately, we are already well on our way."
As of 2020, Dominique Du Tré became the new chairman of the board of directors.
Dominique Du Tré
She has now been working in the federation field for 29 years. First in the agricultural machinery federation, then in the technology industry federation Agoria. From her various positions, she often came into contact with national, European and international standards. Within Agoria, she became responsible for the regulatory and standardization entity and thus got to know NBN. Today she is responsible for the entity of experts that provides services to members. When Agoria became a sector operator with the NBN, Dominique took a seat on the board of directors of the NBN. To eventually become president of this board in 2020.
Dominique: "Together with Johan and his team, I still want to realize some projects. We try to involve ourselves more and more internationally in the standardization process. In the meantime, Johan is part of ISO's governing body. It is important to be closely involved in the international governance model of standardization. Moreover, NBN's future plans are in line with the priorities proposed by European Commissioner Thierry Breton in February 2022 in her new European standardization strategy.
The NBN is becoming a much more dynamic Organisation and is shaking off its corny image. We want to make it as easy as possible for the end user to find standards so that they are actually used. Because that is ultimately the goal: for standards to permeate our society.
In education, therefore, there is still much work to do to make standards and standardization more widely known. Students are the standards users and standards writers of tomorrow. The generational shift among standardization experts must be facilitated.
Top priority for NBN remains sensitizing all stakeholders, attracting experts and then guiding them through the standardization process. At the end of the road, everyone should know what standards are, what their added value is and why standardization is so important."