Tarja Rapala-Virtanen Discusses Appointment as EIPC Technical Director

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Starkey: I'm sure that more and more of the conference content will be inspired by your input and ideas.

Rapala-Virtanen: I will create the program proposals and give ideas for the topics, but I would still appreciate Michael’s comments to ensure that the focus of the content is correct and we don’t repeat earlier conferences; every conference should have some new topics. That way, there will be no gap in technical conference content, and we will continue the chain of interesting topics.

Starkey: EIPC conferences have always been great learning experiences, and I think the whole atmosphere is very comfortable and positive.

Rapala-Virtanen: You are right, the atmosphere is important, and by offering interesting technical papers, we can continue to keep that.

Starkey: It's very relaxed, but there is an intense concentration on up-to-date technical information and the vision of future trends. Everything comes out in the EIPC conferences, and they're becoming more popular; attendance is increasing.

Rapala-Virtanen: It's a good sign when attendance increases. At the same time, it puts pressure on us to find new interesting technologies and topics for the coming conferences. Maybe that has also differentiated it from the other conferences around the world. One point that I see—having also attended other conferences around the world—is that although the conferences from EIPC have very good presentations, there is also an opportunity for networking and having some extra kind of bonus program and this has been a good asset.

Starkey: They bring the industry together.

Rapala-Virtanen: Absolutely, and that makes it easier for all of the conference attendees to get in contact with each other for deeper discussions and sharing opinions.

Starkey: That's true, and can be as valuable as the technical presentations.

Rapala-Virtanen: Yes, and also so that you can talk to those who given the presentations because we know people are different. Some people want to ask the questions during or after the presentation, whereas others want a quiet face-to-face discussion and ask about confidential background information. EIPC conference has made it possible to have these discussions and exchange ideas. I think that has been one of the advantages of the EIPC conference. Many times, the conference venue and location have also been chosen well.

Starkey: Yes, Kirsten [Smit-Westenberg, Executive Director of EIPC] chooses very good locations, and she makes sure that she moves the location around Europe so that everybody gets an opportunity to travel to somewhere interesting as well as hear good presentations and to have the benefit of the big industry network that goes along with it.

Rapala-Virtanen: The whole atmosphere is created so that it makes networking easy. That may be something that attendees don't realize, but it has always been there. It does not come by itself; it contains a lot of work that’s not always obvious to the participants.

Starkey: It's taken a lot of intelligent work over many years to establish this sort of format and framework.

Rapala-Virtanen: Yes, and like you said, Kirsten is one of the key people in keeping the continuity of the EIPC conference and giving the possibility for the whole big family to get together.

Starkey: There is stability in that family. Kirsten has been the mother of the family for a long time.

Rapala-Virtanen: That is correct.

Starkey: And I think Alun Morgan has become the father of the family. With no disrespect to Mr. Weinhold, Michael has been the grandfather.

Rapala-Virtanen: That's right, and now I take the responsibility of the enthusiastic daughter.

Starkey: Tarja, we could carry on this conversation for a long time, but I think that we're going to see really good things in the future. Congratulations again on your appointment. Thank you for taking your time to talk with me; I appreciate it.

Rapala-Virtanen: Thank you, Pete. My goal is to leverage my knowledge and expertise and use it for the EIPC and industry. I'm glad to be a member of EIPC.


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