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Beer Opatsuwan

Our birthday Standards Heroes have been nominated by their peers to represent all our contributors - individuals we consider to be the real heroes of standards, in Australia and internationally. We thank those who contribute their knowledge and expertise, service, and time to Standards Australia for the benefit of the Australian community.  

Beer Opatsuwan is Manager - Intelligent Grid Program, at Energy Queensland and has been dedicated to standards development from early in his career.  

How did you become involved in standards development? 

I became interested in standards development early in my career as I saw the safety and economic benefits of standards to society.  

In 2011, I joined the Technical Standards Group at Energex (an electricity distribution company based in Queensland) and was fortunate to be mentored by several experienced electrical engineers and managers who are experts in standards management. Over the next five years, I was able to expand my skills across varying aspects of standards development through developing technical specifications, technical instructions, tender evaluation and managing several Energex’s technical standards relating to substations engineering.  

What role have standards played in your career?   

The role of standards has been extremely influential in my career. I have spent considerable time developing and maintaining Energex’s technical standards and having created linkages to national and international standards through firsthand experience. I recognised the importance of standardisation to keep people safe, build economic value and support the broader communities.  

In 2013, I learned about Standards Australia’s plan to connect the work of standardisation to young professionals and was grateful to join its early phase NEXTgen Program. The program has provided me with valuable insights into the many critical pillars of national and international standards development. The journey I took with Standards Australia’s support has broadened my thinking massively and expanded my capability at a national level. As my interests continue to grow alongside my skills, I have been able to expand my involvement into the international arena and eventually represented Australia at the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Young Professionals (YPs) Program in Japan in 2014 and have never looked back.

What is a project you’ve been particularly proud to have helped deliver? 

It has been a privilege to have helped the standards community deliver many initiatives. Amongst these initiatives, I am particularly proud to have worked with the IEC and fellow IEC Young Professional’s to improve the framework of the program. In 2015, we introduced an educational module aimed at helping emerging standardisation engineers, technical specialists, and managers to enhance their understanding of standards development through simulations. The project team developed a mock standard development activity under the theme of Baby Robot international standards. The key learning elements include role-playing, managing diverse stakeholder requirements, resolving conflicts, and fostering consensus. I am particularly proud of this initiative as it became a permanent feature of the IEC program since its initial launch in Belarus in 2015.

Outside of standards development, what have been some highlights of your career? 

I admire many professionals who have contributed their time, energy, and efforts toward advancing the world of standardisation. It can be challenging to balance time between standards development (volunteer capacity) and a full-time job. A recent highlight of my career over the past three years is having been able to balance competing priorities in leading a team in delivering a large program of work at Energy Queensland, completing an MBA, serving as a board member of the IEC Standardisation Management Board (SMB) and raising my rapidly growing children. I found this period quite challenging and felt that experience was essential for personal growth. I am thankful to my wife, mentors and colleagues who have supported me during this period.

What do you think the future of standardisation looks like? 

I envision that the standards platform will become a lot more agile in its operations while remaining robust in upholding the consensus principle. Future standards will be borderless, inclusive, exciting, balanced, digital-centric and readily accessible. There will be increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to coordinate and harmonise the growing intellects and technical know-how from across industries. The standards development systems will become more autonomous leveraging a significant amount of external operational insights. This in turn creates more powerful, inclusive, relevant and balanced standards. This is not ground-breaking, just look at how companies like Google are changing the world.  

Is there anything you’d like to say or mention about Standards Australia’s centenary year? 

The conversations regarding standards development need to start at the grass-roots level. I see a significant opportunity for standard bodies to invest more effort and work closely with universities and young professionals to generate awareness of the importance of standards to society.  

Young Professionals should be aware that the world of standards has a lot to offer, its future is exciting and that they can make an impact. Where else can you gain experience in harmonising technical differences across multiple sectors, coordinating the thinking of diverse stakeholder groups, across many cultures, language barriers and borders? It is possible to do so in standards development while knowing that your efforts ultimately contribute to improving life - today and tomorrow