The IMPACT team at IEEE Young Professionals wholeheartedly congratulates Dr. Edhem ‘Eddie’ Custovic for receiving this year’s IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award for his “leadership in the empowerment and development of technology professionals globally”. The IEEE Theodore W. Hissey Outstanding Young Professional Award is the newest IEEE level recognition established in 2017 in the honor of IEEE Life Fellow Theodore W. Hissey for his tremendous support of the IEEE Young Professional Community. It is presented to an IEEE Young Professional within 15 years of the first academic degree for contributions to the technical community and IEEE fields of interest.
Eddie by day is an engineering academic at La Trobe University, Australia, and the founder/director of the La Trobe Innovation & Entrepreneurship Foundry (LIEF). He is a business owner, entrepreneur, thought leader, mentor, philanthropist, and global citizen. Eddie was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina and lived for extended periods in Switzerland and Germany before migrating to Australia. His multicultural background, multilingualism, and ‘borderless’ approach to work enable him to take a politically and culturally sensitive perspective on life, volunteer roles, and professional career. He has been considered by youth as the go-to person for mentoring, career development, industry experience, and life coaching. Eddie is an active contributor to Online & Print Media globally, TV & Radio. Inspired by the IEEE and his passion to help people, together with his brother, Read Custovic (a civil engineer), they founded Bosnia & Herzegovina Futures Foundation. The foundation is their legacy and mechanism in giving back to the country they were born in. Through the foundation, they have been able to build an enormous network of professionals from the STEM field and beyond to join the cause in empowering the youth of the country through non-formal education, technology access, and leadership development.
As for the IEEE involvement and outreach, Eddie joined IEEE as a doctoral student at La Trobe. In 2010 he founded the student branch at La Trobe University. In 2014 he became secretary of the IEEE Victorian (Australia) Section and eventually served as its chair for two years. Eddie was a member of the IEEE Young Professionals global committee, serving as Editor-in-Chief of the IMPACT Blog from 2015 to 2017. He also served on the IEEE Publication Services and Products Board’s strategic planning committee—first as the Young Professionals representative and then as a member-at-large—for six years. In addition, he was a member of the product development team, which explored potential offerings for members. He was the inaugural chair of the Board of Directors’ Industry Engagement Committee and oversaw the creation of the industry advisory board alongside other IEEE volunteers. Eddie is highly regarded for drive and leadership that have led him to become one of the youngest senior leadership and board members in the IEEE.
In 2016, Eddie founded the IEEE Innovation Nation program, IEEE’s pre-accelerator for budding entrepreneurs. The 12-week program was designed to educate students and young professionals about the entrepreneurship life cycle, providing them with mentoring, weekly guest lectures from global and local entrepreneurs, workshops, and an opportunity to pitch for seed capital. The program has since grown in numerous countries from its beginning in Bosnia & Herzegovina to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and other countries.
“This award truly belongs to the many people who have been part of my journey. IEEE has enabled me to develop leadership capacity by providing me opportunities I would have had to wait for years otherwise. It is truly a remarkable network of professionals who have a common goal, advancing technology for humanity. Theodore W. Hissey is someone I have known for numerous years and his encouragement has meant a lot. Regardless of how busy he was or what his health status was like, he always made an effort to speak to younger members and provide words of wisdom and encouragement. This is reflective of the IEEE spirit, we have a supportive network that can help you in your career and give you a platform to give back to your community/society or field of interest,” Eddie says.