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
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.
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
"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
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
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.