Houlin Zhao was re-elected ITU Secretary-General at the 20th Plenipotentiary Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in November 2018.
Mr Zhao is an information and communication technology (ICT) engineer who has served in a variety of senior management positions at ITU, began his second, and last, four-year term on 1 January 2019.
Prior to first being elected as ITU Secretary-General in 2014, Zhao served eight years as ITU Deputy Secretary-General. In that role, he assisted the ITU Secretary-General, in close cooperation with the other elected officials of the Union, to manage the implementation of the ITU Strategic Plan and the operations of the ITU Secretariat, in particular with a view to increasing the transparency and efficiency of the organization.
He was responsible for implementing important innovations, including the promotion of a new category of membership open to the global academic community, internal efficiency measures such as the move to a near-paperless work environment, the increased use of remote participation systems, and measures to increase revenue from sales and cost-recovery services. In addition, he focused closely on membership-driven priorities including maintaining and extending ITU’s commitment to accessibility, to multilingualism, and to broad multistakeholder participation in the work of the Union.
He also served two elected terms as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), which develops technical standards to ensure worldwide ICT interoperability.
During his two terms as TSB Director, he spearheaded the introduction of new efficiency measures to improve ITU’s standards-making environment through fostering even closer cooperation with industry members, while strengthening the promotion of ITU’s leadership in global ICT standards development.
Before that, he was a Senior Counsellor with TSB for 12 years.
Before joining ITU, Mr Zhao served as an engineer in the Designing Institute of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of China, taking an active role in his country’s expert meetings on telecommunication standards and national plans, as well as participating in ITU work as a Chinese delegate. He contributed important articles to a number of prestigious Chinese technical publications, and in 1985 was awarded a prize for his achievements in science and technology within the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.
Born in 1950 in Jiangsu, China, Mr Zhao graduated from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and holds an MSc in Telematics from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom.
He is married with one son and two grandchildren, and is fluent in three official ITU languages: English, French and Chinese.
Mr Zhao is committed to further streamlining ITU’s efficiency, strengthening its membership base through greater involvement of the academic community and of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and to broadening multistakeholder participation in ITU’s work.