President's Column

Build more bridges

01 September 2023
Xuming He - Build more bridges

I am happy to start the new blog series, ISI Executive Committee Column, in which our EC members will share what they have been thinking and doing for the Institute.

I took over the ISI presidency from Stephen Penneck upon the closing of a successful World Statistics Congress in Ottawa, Canada. I have been on the ISI EC for over two years now and have worked closely with the outgoing ISI President Stephen Penneck, the ISI EC members, quite a few staff members in the Permanent Office, and many other ISI members. I have seen that the greatest asset of the ISI family is people. We are an organization built with individuals from around the world who are dedicated to advancing our mission: Statistics for a Better World.

First, let me express my gratitude to Stephen Penneck. I will not attempt to summarize what he has done for the ISI, as that has been made clear in our annual report. Among the many things I could talk about if I had time, I am really impressed that he worked through his last days of his presidency just as hard as his first day. I have learned a great deal from his extensive experience in official statistics among other areas. His leadership as the ISI President over the past two years will be remembered by all of us.

At the General Assembly 2023, I talked about what lies ahead in the next two years. If I were to use only three words to describe our plan for the future, they would be “build more bridges”.

We need to engage our members; broader and deeper engagement among the Executive Committee/Council members, Association Presidents, and our committees and special interest groups are critically needed to make steady progress in each of the ISI’s strategic priorities. The ISI’s strength lies in our institutional members and individual members, and by calling upon more members to contribute to our mission, we will become a stronger family. I will take every opportunity to ask our members what the ISI can do for you and what you can do for the ISI. The ISI will actively facilitate more member-driven and member-focused activities by building better bridges among our members. I also pledge to work closely with every ISI Association President. Each of our seven Associations plays a valuable role in connecting and serving their members, and their contributions cannot be overstated. Our family will grow stronger as we work together.

Another priority for me is the promotion of regional and global collaborations across various parts of the data and statistics communities. Whether you are an official statistician, a data producer, a statistical researcher, or a data scientist in government or industry, you likely have your own network with distinctive areas of expertise. The big data era calls for closer collaborations across sectors. Working beyond traditional boundaries is essential for us to address the big problems of our times. Data privacy and ethics, replicable and reproducible statistical inference or trustworthy machine learning and artificial intelligence are increasingly important topics in our work for public health, climate change, environment protection, and many of the Sustainable Development Goals formulated by the United Nations General Assembly (also known as the 2030 Agenda). As we build more bridges to connect more dots and dot more lines, our community will be better positioned to fulfill our mission.

We will persist in our efforts towards increasing the visibility and influence of statisticians in society by amplifying the voices of our profession and promoting the value of statistics to the wider community. The ISI Public Voice has already resonated in many corners of the world, and we need to double our efforts in the years to come.

You will hear regularly from the incoming ISI Executive Committee about more specific plans and actions. The ISI Academy proposed by the ISI Statistical Capacity Building Committee is an ongoing project to provide a core global network of statisticians. We will organize regional conferences and webinars, as well as a new series of global conferences to enable more bridges to be built for strengthening existing collaborations and fostering new ones. We already started the planning of the World Statistics Congress 2025 in The Hague, The Netherlands, which will highlight a new phase of unity and diversity within the ISI family. Our planned gatherings in 2024 and 2025 aim to extend our reach to more developing regions, including Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.

To accomplish our goals, the ISI needs a sustainable financial plan to support its activities. It is our responsibility to explore new revenue sources, cut costs, and improve work efficiency. I am grateful to our ISI Director Conchita Kleijweg who has been working diligently to transform the ISI Permanent Office (PO) into a more focused and more efficient organization to support the strategic priorities of the ISI. The ISI Executive Committee will be working closely with the PO on developing a sustainable financial model for our Institute and will certainly appreciate contributions from all of you.

I am confident that with a more collaborative spirit in the ISI family, we will overcome any challenges that lie ahead and continue to build a truly global network for statisticians that really makes a difference in all parts of the world. I count on your unwavering support!