Kirtkumar Lathia

BSc Electrical Engineering. Class of 1970. Setting the Standards for Global Communications.

Have you ever thought about how your Samsung phone in the UK can connect to your friends iPhone in Malaysia? The answer is standards! Kirit, as VP for Product Strategy, Standards and Regulations for Siemens, Italy has had more than 25 years of senior management experience in the telecommunications industry.

As advisor to the Italian Government  he represented Italy at ITU. At European level, he participated in ETSI (European Standards Organisation for the ICT).

Kirit’s skills have included leading the Italian Governments positions within ETSI and in particular ETSI IPR policy. In 1996 his “Programme Advisory Committee” provided ETSI with a technical vision for IP based convergence of fixed/mobile/internet core networks with publication of “GMM – Global Multimedia Mobility”. During 1998 Kirit was a member of the delegation that created 3GPP that became the de-facto global standards body for global communications. Kirit represented ETSI as Chairman of ICT Standards Board and assisted the European Commission to formulate its official positions for RFID, Privacy and Data Protection Principles. Kirit is a Fellow IET and Fellow ETSI.

We caught up with Kirit to ask him a few questions about his career and time at Swansea.

"Swansea University has a unique combination of location, student facilities, friendly staff and high educational standards."

How did you end up at Swansea University?

Coming from Bournemouth, Swansea was my last (insurance) choice in UCAS. Imperial College was first choice. However, after visiting Swansea and its surroundings at Mumbles Bay, the openness and friendliness of staff plus the location of Singleton Park campus opposite a nice beach made it my first choice and I declined Imperial College! Swansea University has a unique combination of location, student facilities, friendly staff and high educational standards.

What is your best memory of your time at the University?

Swansea University’s location allowed me to go trekking, discover the South Wales Valleys and make a life-long friend who now lives in Japan plus my excellent tutor Dr. Vivian Phillips with whom I am still in contact after 50 years. The debating society taught me to "think on my feet" and become a public speaker. The advanced lectures on nascent digital technologies impacted my career choices.

What did you do when you graduated?

After graduating in Electrical Engineering, I joined a Telecommunications company and was involved in field trial of the first world-wide digital telecommunications signalling system called CCITT#6. This showed that global standards are key to successful infrastructure products and success depends on global cooperation.

"Swansea University built my character and made me realise that people come first..."

How much did your Swansea experience influence your career?

Swansea University built my character and made me realise that people come first and (international) cooperation, team building is the key to success, not forgetting to "think outside the box", which one has to do in research and product development.

How did you end up at ETSI?

We never think about how dialling a telephone number or using a web address allows us to connect anywhere in the world with different manufacturer’s products. Global standards allow us this capability. Worldwide standards are most important to break down non-tariff based trade barriers. At a global level, there is a UN agency called ITU and at European level European manufacturers, operators and governments collaborated in the creation of ETSI and ensured that its Europe based telecommunications standards became worldwide standards and European Regulations. Hence as VP for global products’ strategy, it was important that I participate at ITU and ETSI to ensure that standards being defined met my company’s requirements to ensure first mover advantage.