Giovanni Seppia is no stranger to the domain industry, having worked for the .it and .eu registries, ICANN and CENTR. As he prepares to move from EURid to his new position as ICANN VP of Implementation Operations, we looked back at his indefatigable support of and contribution to the CENTR community, and asked him a few questions.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background and in particular your involvement in CENTR?
I studied International relations at the University of Pisa. I was at my second or third job when during a presentation in Cyprus I was approached by Laura Abba, a director at the .it registry, who offered me a position there. A few months later, I became the head of the newly created .it External Relations department. That was over twenty years ago. That was when I learned about the DNS industry, ICANN and CENTR. I remember attending the very first CENTR administrative workshop in Frankfurt, where Marianne, the CENTR General Manager, was telling me to speak slowly and take my time as one of the other presenters had not shown up. I remember I was quite nervous, but determined to highlight the great relation between the .it registry and their accredited registrars.
A couple of years later, I found myself as the CENTR General Manager, coordinating the move of the CENTR headquarters to Brussels. Not an easy process, lots of administrative stuff, a lot of frustration as I wanted to engage more with the European registries, but I was stuck with completing forms and closing the offices CENTR had in other countries.
My best achievement was not only that I made CENTR a not-for-profit organisation registered in Belgium, but that I became friends with the representatives of some registries who still today are amongst my best friends.
What is your first/best memory of the CENTR community?
Aristotle first defined “community” as a group of men sharing the same interests.
CENTR can count on a strong membership, a truly multicultural and multilingual community made up of pioneers of the world domain name sector. When I joined CENTR as General Manager, most of the European registries were somehow concerned with the role of ICANN and the newly-created country code Name Supporting Organisation (ccNSO) whose first meeting was held in 2004.
The best memory I have is not attached to a single event, but to the evolution of the whole CENTR model and its members’ understanding that united they can achieve higher goals, to their sense of what is right and their responsibility for being among the Internet drivers in their respective countries, to their working together in the ultimate interests of the community they serve tirelessly and, in some cases, passionately.
What is the thing you are most proud of having changed or influenced within CENTR?
In the far-away past, I am happy to have been the one who initiated the dialogue with ICANN to facilitate the change of the ICANN bylaws to accommodate the wishes of CENTR members and enable them to become ccNSO members. More recently, I am happy to have contributed to the CENTR dialogue on the IANA transition. Both processes were not easy to handle.
Overall, I think progress has always been down to community effort, work and achievement rather than a single person’s effort.
What will you miss most about the CENTR community?
The CENTR community was, is and will remain in the depth of my heart.
In my new role, I will be dealing with the evolution of the ICANN multistakeholder model. I am confident that the CENTR community will have a lot to say about it.
So, in the end, there is no goodbye as I will remain in touch with CENTR even if from a different perspective as the CENTR community is one of the most important pillars of the DNS global village.
CENTR’s General Manager Peter Van Roste adds: “On behalf of the CENTR Community and the CENTR secretariat, I would like to thank Giovanni for his invaluable contribution in his different roles. As a General Manager he kicked of the reform that allowed CENTR to grow , as a Board Member and Chair he was a champion of collaboration and as a member he undoubtedly holds the record for sharing most often at our meetings in the past 20 years. On top of that he is the most generous and warm colleague any of us have the pleasure to work with”.