Reef Industries

Jessica J. Bian, Secretary, IEEE PES (2016-2019)

Coming Together

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. – Henry Ford 

Two weeks ago more than 3,200 of Powerful people across the world came to the 2019 IEEE PES General Meeting (GM) in Atlanta!

My memories of my first GM in 1989 are with scholars from dozens of universities, and big names in the industry.  I had the opportunity to exchange ideas, participate in panels and develop friendships with people from all over the world.  My Rolodex® includes cards from researchers and practitioners who hail from Imperial College London, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, University of Auckland, Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (National Energy Control Center) of Costa Rica, Eskom of South Africa and beyond.

PES as a family brings us together with friends and colleagues. We are able to share not only our insights, but also enthusiasm for our profession and Society. All of this has been on my mind for last few weeks as GM ended. Coming together and sharing is the most communal and binding experience in almost every place in the world.

Throughout my term as the PES Secretary (2016-2019), I have had the fulfilling opportunity to meet with so many PES members around the world. It’s hard to believe that four years have almost passed. Over coffee, lunch or dinner, one expert would tell electric vehicle stories and someone else would bring up renewable resources and so on and then I would have some standards discussion and we would all share how and why we came to know and love the topics. Sometimes it’s about taking a selfie with someone who’s influenced me, or sharing a business idea with someone I admire, or making a connection that can lead to finding my next mentor.  At a breakout session I may find myself sitting next to my idol or influencer. This is what makes PES so special, it brings us together.

I remember at GM when I got a few minutes to speak one-on-one to Professor Roy Billinton, author of “Power System Reliability Evaluation” and “Reliability and Risk Evaluation of Wind Integrated Power Systems”, and ask him for advice on a new study I had launched. Every time I return from the GM, I feel I “sharpen the saw” with new ideas and approaches that make me more effective and efficient at work. Plus, researchers say that our friends give us communal support and help us feel optimistic.  When we feel optimistic, our visual perception of challenges actually changes: Mountains look more like molehills.

We all have many of our biggest moments in life either sharing or making new friends—our potential future joint authors and collaborators. This is the way to be invited to join collective research projects such as edited books, special issues in peer-reviewed journals or funding applications. It is also a fundamental approach, getting a job in academia or industry. In most places, the job selection process is transparent and meritocratic, but remember that ultimately, with a similar CV, selection committee members will most likely hire someone they know and that they get along with.

Just as with any other field, experts cultivate exceptional resources—and they’re excited to share them with colleagues. GMs are full of such experts promoting new ideas, showing new products and teaching new methodologies. These live events provide unique learning and career building opportunities that I just can’t find anywhere else. Remember that scene in Dead Poet’s Society when Robin Williams made his students stand on a desk to get a fresh perspective? Magic happens, if we are open to the possibility.

PES has many activities for all interests and desires. Please contact me with any questions or comments, and send me an e-mail at

Jessica J. Bian
Candidate for IEEE PES President-Elect 2020-2021
IEEE PES Secretary 2016-2019
Grid-X Partners
Wayne, IL, USA