News in 2013

14 years with FIG – FIG Director Markku Villikka retired from FIG end of July 2013

On 1 January 1999 FIG Director Markku Villikka started working in the FIG Office. Together with five councils and many volunteers he has built the office and FIG to what it is today. FIG events were developed and shaped to Congresses, Working Weeks and Regional Conferences. The first year Markku Villikka worked with President Peter Dale, and from 2000 he served under the following 4 Presidents, who has each contributed with a short good-bye to Markku.

CheeHai Teo, FIG President 2011-2014

On behalf of the Council, Commissions, Networks, Permanent Institutions, Office as well as the membership of FIG, I thank Markku Villikka for his years of service, contribution and dedication to the Federation and the Profession. This wholehearted service, contribution and dedication preceded the day he took up the post of FIG Director early in 1999 after the Federation decided to establish a permanent office and professionalize its administration. Though Markku left his position as FIG Director on 31st July 2013, a necessary joint decision given the circumstances, he remains a surveyor, an honorary member of FIG and very much a part of FIG’s quest to ensure that the disciplines of surveying and all who practise them are relevant and meeting the needs of both the places and the people we serve.
We are all aware that one may leave a position, a job and retire from work, but one does not retire from experience and from life. We are well aware of Markku’s passion for the Profession and the Federation. We wish him the very best going forward as he steps away from the FIG Administration.
"I promise to keep on living as though I expected to live forever. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul."
(Douglas MacArthur)

In the absence of a farewell gathering, this edition of FIG eNewsletter contains some reflections and stories that would have been shared in a farewell gathering for Markku. 

Bob Foster, FIG President 2000-2002

I first became acquainted with Markku Villikka when we interviewed him for the position of Director of the FIG Office in 1998. The then FIG president, Peter Dale, had appointed a search committee to find and hire a Director for the new FIG permanent office in Copenhagen. The committee’s activity culminated in an interview of six candidates from several European countries. Markku was the sixth interview and almost immediately established himself as the prime candidate with his enthusiasm for the position and his articulate expression of understanding, but most of all for his thorough knowledge of the history and culture of the Federation. He was our unanimous choice and we entered into a contract with him for the position on January 1, 1999. By the time, eleven months later in November, 1999, that the retiring British Bureau handed over the bureau to the American administration the FIG office was organized and functioning smoothly under Markku’s direction.
In the following years of my presidency I came to appreciate the brilliance of our choice of Markku for the position. It was Markku’s energy in the job, knowledge of the organization and patience with my sometimes short attention span due to a progressive problem occurring in my family that I was able to serve out my term of office. Markku could always advise me on the meetings and events I had to attend, and those that could be left to others. Had I had less support and understanding, I would probably have had to resign from the presidency.
The US Bureau came into office, as had its predecessors, with a zero bank balance, the British Bureau having balanced its budget and closed its books. But now, with a permanent FIG office in Denmark and a full-time office director we chose, as one of our bureau’s chief aims, to create a reserve fund for the Federation so that future bureaus would not be faced with the first several months of their administrations waiting for the annual subscriptions to begin to arrive. By the end of 2003 the FIG accounts showed a financial reserve of almost 300,000 Euros. This accomplishment and a smooth transition into a governance process whereby the FIG administration was to be popularly elected by the General Assembly, were major accomplishments of the US Bureau. Markku, with his good advice and counsel, made it possible for us to enact these administrative milestones that have transformed how the Federation operates.
I will always be grateful for Markku’s support and good counsel provided with energy and grace during a difficult time. Markku, as well, was a good friend and entertaining travel companion with his dry humor and tact. He was invaluable for his knowledge of the personalities and protocols of the international community of FIG, many of whom were strange to me. I thank Markku and wish him the best in his well-deserved retirement.

Holger Magel, FIG President 2003-2006

My closer relationship with Markku Villikka started in the year 1998 when a high panel of FIG excellencies (Peter Dale, Bob Foster, Holger Magel, Stig Enemark) had to find and decide on the newly established post of a FIG director in order to professionalize FIG. There was no doubt and it was an unanimous decision: Markku was the only one and the right one of several candidates who fulfilled all expectations! The decision was important not only for him, not only for the FIG community, but especially also for Peter Dale, the FIG President, for Bob Foster, the incoming FIG President and for me as the successor of Bob.
I had the pleasure to work with Markku for about 8 years and I have always benefited from his rich knowledge especially about FIG and his profile and opinions as a well grounded specialized Geodesist and Generalist. As the so called German FIG Presidency was the Transition Period by transforming from country led regime to the so called democratic, i.e. single person elected regime, a lot of new challenges and emotions had to be managed and balanced. Markku has managed it excellently and has supported the council in an ever loyal and effective way!
He became Mister FIG due to his restless engagement-unfortunately on the cost of his health. He represented FIG around the world and has helped to make FIG a really globally acting Federation with professional Competence and a respected partner of UN, WB etc.
With warm feelings I remember many joint travels, sometimes together with my wife Ansi, where we had also time to talk about Markkus second great love and passion of his life: classic music, especially Wagner and Mozart! Markku knew and visited nearly all new respective performances in Bayreuth, Salzburg, Vienna and naturally also for example in Savonlinna. I hope, Markku can live and enjoy his passion also in the next years when he has to abdicate his first passion FIG.
On behalf of German FIG Council 2003-2006 I would like to thank Markku very much for his service and friendship. We will never forget his great contribution to sensitize German surveyors for international aspects of surveying, especially in the Land, Education and GIS Sector. Markku Villikka has rendered outstanding services not only for FIG, but also for German colleagues and Germany! We will never forget it and never forget you, dear Markku.

Stig Enemark, FIG President 2007-2010

Just writing a few words in appreciation of Markku Villikka is not that easy as there is so much to say. I have enjoyed working with Markku over about 25 years in various professional relations such as the Nordic Surveyors, the European Surveyors, and of course especially within the FIG global surveying community. I remember quite well the early days of building the FIG Office in the late1990s – and the process of appointing Markku as the first Executive Director of FIG in 1999. Markku clearly possessed the right qualifications and he started off with a lot of enthusiasm and professionalism. The task was challenging as the early 2000s were a period of transition.
The FIG administration was changing from a country based Bureau to a more global Council where the members are elected directly by the GA, and the role of FIG was changing by placing more emphasis on becoming a global player in a partnership with the UN agencies.
This transition required a strong office to manage the daily administration and also support the council in policy making and management. Markku succeeded in setting high standards for building such an office, even though the process also inevitably included some conflicts. When looking back, there is no doubt that the high standing FIG has today is very much due to Markku´s drive and commitment as FIG Director.
Dear Markku, on behalf of the FIG council 2007-2010 I thank you for your tireless services and highly professional support. On the more personal side I thank you for our friendship throughout the years. Retirement should be a nice thing when looking back on such a highly engaged life with major achievements and lasting personal relations. We wish you all the best for a speedy recovering and for having some relaxed and enjoyable years ahead.

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August 2013

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