By Prosper Chemouil
Janusz Filipiak passed away on December 17, 2023. Janusz had been a brilliant Polish scientist in telecommunications, an outstanding entrepreneur in IT services, and a passionate football enthusiast. Like cats, he has had different lives during which he brought excellence and vitality with a sharp sense of determination. Not only did he have a vision on the future of computer communications and services, but he always tried to make it happen in real life through the company that he co-founded with his wife, Elżbieta.
Janusz Filipiak joined the Institute of Computer Science and Automation of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Automation and Electronics at the University of Mining and Metallurgy, now AGH University, in Kraków, Poland in 1976. He obtained his MSC. And his PhD in 1976 and 1979 respectively, doing research on Dynamic Decentralized Control of Data Communication Networks.
In 1984, he got a fellowship from the French Ministry of Post and Telecommunications to spend one sabbatical year at Cnet, the spearhead Research Center on Telecommunications in France, to work on dynamic routing and network management. He then initiated a 10-year research cooperation between his University Department and Cnet (then France Telecom R&D), allowing mutual exchange of researchers between France and Poland.
In 1987, Janusz Filipiak moved to Australia with his family to work at the Teletraffic Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, where he became the acting director in 1989.
He next went to North America and worked on various research programs for several organizations in Canada and the USA, before returning to Poland, his homeland.
He was then quickly appointed as Full Professor at AGH University and then the head of the Telecommunications Department. During that period, Janusz published numerous papers in Journals such as IEEE Transactions on Communications, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, and IEEE Communications Magazine. He also presented papers in recognized conferences such as the World IFAC Congress, ITC (International Teletraffic Congress) and IEEE GLOBECOM (Global Communications Conference). In addition, he published two books:
- Modelling and Control of Dynamic Flows in Communications Networks, Springer-Verlag 1988,
- Real Time Network Management, North Holland 1991.
Along with his scientific accomplishments, Janusz Filipiak managed to engage as a volunteer. He was the Chair of the ITC Regional Seminar on Telecommunication Services for Developing Economies that he hosted in Kraków in 1991, and the IEEE/IFIP Workshop on Requirements and Techniques for Network Management, endorsed by ComSoc CNOM (Committee on Network Operations and Management) back in 1993. While is Australia, he organized the 6th ITC Specialist Seminar on Traffic Theory for New Telecommunications Services, in Adelaide in September 1989.
In 1993, considering the drastic political and economic changes in Eastern Europe that created new business opportunities, Janusz Filipiak founded with his wife a start-up company as a spin-off of AGH, known as Comarch (Communications Architecture). Comarch rapidly became a successful IT company that expanded beyond the borders of Poland. Comarch has developed solutions for technologies such as cloud computing and M2M services, and is serving tens of business customers, including numerous network operators and service providers, including major companies such as DT, Vodafone, O2, Orange, KPN. Its success was witnessed when Janusz Filipiak was invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), where he was cited as CEO of one of the 100 most developing companies. See IEEE Communications Magazine, October 2010.
One of the key elements for Comarch’s success was Janusz’ strong belief that differentiation would be through research and innovation. He thus invested substantial money for the development of added-value services based on new technologies. This is why Comarch had been awarded several times in the last two decades as most innovative company in different fora. Janusz was himself nominated for European Entrepreneur of the year by different business analysts. In 2018, He was the only CEO of Middle and Eastern Europe to be invited by Emmanuel Macron, President of France to participate in the French Summit "Choose France" aimed at stimulating economy and development through multinational companies.
To reflect on the impact that he had on the telecom and IT industry, in 2012, Janusz Filipiak was awarded the Communications Society Distinguished Industry Leader Award for his contribution and leadership in the development and growth of the communication industry and information technologies. He was presented with this award at IEEE ICC (International Conference on Communications) in June 2013 in Budapest, Hungary. See the IEEE ComSoc Career Award Page.
Though his main activity had been driven by Comarch business since 1998 when he became the CEO of his company, Janusz Filipiak has always kept strong relationships with the CNOM Community, and supported many events organized or supported by IEEE ComSoc. In particular, he sponsored DRCN (International Conference on the Design of Reliable Communication Networks) in 2011 and ITC 2012, both organized in Kraków, Poland. Ultimately, he was the Honorary Chair of the IEEE/IFIP Network Operations & Management Symposium (NOMS 2014) held in Kraków in 2014, where he delivered the opening Keynote.
Besides his contributions across the IT and telecommunications industry and research community, Janusz Filipiak was not only a businessman but also an enthusiastic football fan. Accordingly, he became the chair of the board of directors of the sports company MKS Cracovia, the oldest sporting organization in Poland including both a football team and an ice hockey team. The impressive number of Cracovia supporters, mostly ordinary people, who attended his funeral in Kraków demonstrated that he was a very respected man in that role too.
Janusz was considered to be very direct and straightforward, and he could even be controversial. However, he was always consistent with his vision, detailed in his autobiographic book “Why it worked: The philosophy and strategies of the founder of Comarch” that is dedicated to his three children: Anna Berenika, Janusz Jeremiasz and Maria Klementyna.
Janusz maintained a strong relationship along 40+ years with his Cracovian friends dating back from his graduate period at university. He was an endearing and generous person that will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends, within and beyond Poland.
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