Dr. Thomas Zielke

Candidate for the position of Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, in coordination with the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Foreign Office, has presented a senior official as a candidate for the position of Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau of the International Telecommunication Union, an UN agency.

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A broad range of experience

Since 1993 Thomas has dedicated his professional life to international cooperation, to removing trade barriers and to international standardization policy. As a lawyer he is specialized in technical regulation and international collaboration. Thomas has a broad set of international operative management experience in standardization, diplomacy and communication in a range of organizations and structures.

Currently he is with the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), Department for Digitization and Innovation, with an annual budget responsibility up to around 45 m US dollars. Among other mandates, he serves as the German Head of Delegation to the EU Committee on Standards in Brussels and Head of the German National Delegation to ETSI. As governmental program coordinator Thomas works with partners from Azerbaijan, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, the Eurasian Economic Union, as Co-Chair of the Chinese-German Commission on Standards and for the U.S.-German Standards Panel.

From 2011 until 2016 he was the appointed Director of communications in the public and private sector and CEO of the Representative of German Industry and Trade in Washington D.C. Having made one of his first career moves at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York, Thomas’s “return” to the UN would bring him full circle.

Source: Bundesregierung / Sandra Steins

ITU-T has to focus on the right and most rewarding issues in standardization. Therefore I work hard to conduct progress with existing and new members, partners and contributers. I want to build bridges – also by fostering substantial cooperation with international standardization organizations. Let's work together to create standards accepted everywhere.

Dr. Thomas M. Zielke

Fresh approaches for new challenges

Digitization and mobile communications networks are changing our daily lives, as well as business and commerce – now and in the future. But the rapid developments of our time also pose new challenges for a tradition-rich orga- nization like the ITU. How can artificial intelligence, the upcoming 6 G stan- dard and fintech services be standardized? Which key topics must the ITU focus on? How can the ITU strike a balance between self-confident independence and cooperation?

To answer these crucial questions, fresh ideas and innovative, forward- looking approaches are needed. There is a need for knowledge, experience and resilient networks in the field of standardization. That is why Thomas Zielke, with the support of the German Government, is applying for the position as “Director Standardization” at the ITU.

Source: BMWK

Work Experience

since 8/2016Director, Head of Division, Office for National and International Standardization Policy and Patent Policy, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)
1/2011 – 7/2016President, Representative of German Industry and Trade (RGIT), Washington D.C.; RGIT is the liaison office of the Federation of German Industries (BDI) and the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK)
3/2009 – 12/2010Director Public Relations, RGIT, Washington D.C., Editor Washington News and website. Membership and stakeholder relations, parliament and business delegations affairs, publishing.
5/2001 – 11/2007Director Communications, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Technology, Advisor to the Secretary, responsible for all printed publications, websites, trade fair presentations and events of the ministry. Liaison to the spokesperson of the Federal Chancellor. 13 staff members, budget responsibility: €12 million
4/1998 – 4/2001Deputy Director, Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, SME department, unit for EU matters. Delegate to the Administrative Committee of the EU Multiannual SME Program in Brussels.
4/1997 – 3/1998First Secretary, Diplomat, German Foreign Office, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, New York N.Y., 2nd UN (Economic) Committee, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), acting member of the member-states supervisory board for UNICEF.
10/1993 – 3/1997Gov. Official, Assistant Director, Federal Ministry of Economics, Bonn, Germany. Task Force for the New Federal States.
2 – 8/1993Lawyer at the law firm Prof. Börner, Düsseldorf, Germany.
3 – 5/1992Junior lawyer at the law firm B. Hausmann, Johannesburg, South Africa.
3/1990 – 1/1993Junior lawyer at the law firm Blättermann & Scheier, Düsseldorf.



Source: BMWK

My Vision Statement for ITU-T

Source: Dr. Thomas M. Zielke

Today in all kind of international standardization-organizations, topics are becoming more and more overlapping. Digitization and mobile- communication networks influence our daily lifes and have changed business and trade significantly. In particular Artificial Intelligence and the resulting data flow whether on mobile or stationary devices can be standardized under several aspects. The same is true for coming 5 G or even 6 G standardization or challenges such as machine readable standards, shaping fintech-services and more to give just a few examples.

There will be a lot of communication to find out the needs of the organization, the employees and the stakeholders of course, and I intend to listen and act as a team player. But I‘d also like to point out only three of potential fields of action I have identified as my goals:

Taking into account the ITU still is and shall remain an organization of highest importance with an extraordinary expertise, enormous capacities on dealing not only a lot of issues but also of cutting-edge-topics and processing huge events. And ITU has got a globally unique competence in ICT matters due to the experts in the study groups from all over the world. In order to achieve goals and other efforts set by the General Assembly I have committed myself to - among others to be set - three major efforts for the benefit of the organization and members:

Source: BMWK / Tobias Koch

Facts & Figures

First Priority

To face the newest technological challenges, the ITU needs a vision and a set of goals and a transparent process to determine and prioritize actions. Listen, learn, focus and act. For efficient decision-making and valuable outcomes. For an ITU-T that is measured by results benefitting countries, industries and consumers.

I want to conduct a process on how ITU-T could focus on the right and most rewarding key issues in standardization for the business community and industries. If elected I would like to conduct and shape this process and put more speed on it. Which also means: Building new bridges between business, science, research, civil society and the ITU-T. I am confident my broad set of international operative management experience in standardization, diplomacy and communication in different organizations and structures will help to push this process forward by acknowledging the needs of as many members as possible.

Second Priority

The ITU is only as strong as the stakeholders who sit at its table. As Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, I will ensure that new stakeholders want to commit and participate. Artificial intelligence, 6G, machine learning in an ever-changing world. ITU’s unique expertise enables innovators of game-changing technologies to make the most of their ideas.

I want to work hard to finding more members and contributors who could do both; helping to create standards accepted everywhere and thus supporting this organization at the same time. As today a significant part of standards worldwide come from different sources, it is important to use the organization by making it attractive to set standardization here and not elsewhere. This calls for for more members with more creativity from the corporate sector. In talks with company leader from different countries I learned many companies have a lot of trust in ITU but hope that ITU could re-position standardization right in the middle between regulation and practical business.

Third Priority

It is my firm belief that the ITU is predestined to initiate and conduct a substantial dialogue beyond its own structure. Cooperating with other international standardization organizations, with science and industries will be highly important to achieving our goals as an institution and serving member states from both industrialized and developing countries.

To build more solid bridges by fostering substantial cooperation with other international standardization organizations. We need to anticipate future developments and, we need to find standard-related positions of overall common worldwide interest in a fast-changing world. No one else than an organization in the center, a United Nations Organization such as ITU, would be more predestined to initiate and conduct a dialogue between major organizations, leading industry nations and developing countries, large and small companies, on fundamental issues of standardization. Because standardization means order, reliability and safety in a world of today and tomorrow.

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