And so we have a President! Chosen from amongst our Past-Presidents, we warmly welcome Tony Roche FREng FIMechE back into the Chair.
Tony is a career railway engineer who has held many senior posts in British Rail. His final appointment was as the Executive Board Member there with full responsibility for Engineering, Safety and Support Services. In his election statement he said “We need to gain the trust and respect of the wider membership so that we know the Institution is on the right course for both the short and long term. This not only applies to our finance and governance reviews, but also to our work addressing the recommendations of the Uff report”. He is now filling his calendar and hoping to engage with as many active volunteers as is humanly possible.
Our Council meeting on Wednesday not only ratified support for the new President, but began work on the three major projects that will shape our future. For the finance review, there was strong support for an Independent Chair with significant business leadership experience who then has a specialist team to support them, including of course our Finance Director. There was then a request for an early statement on the accounts from this team in a clear and transparent format. The team could then take slightly longer to look more strategically, in parallel with the governance review, at how we make our financial decisions in the future. The aim is that the first report will come out as quickly as possible to help establish credibility.
The governance review will also have an independent Chair who will have strong experience of member-based charitable organisations. The focus, as was thought last week, remains on clarity and communication rather than wholesale change. It will also take a look at the way we are complying with the General Data Protection Regulations to ensure that they do not cut across what we are legally allowed to do as a member based organisation. The goal for this group is to report in time for the May 2019 Council so that changes and clarifications in our By-Laws (which will be the test of the change that we want to see) can be incorporated alongside the changes we need in them anyhow to support the Engineering Council move towards mandatory Continuing Professional Development for its registrants.
Thirdly the future for the engineering profession in the UK remains a very active area of interest for our members. There continues to be a significant majority in support for action on our part. The challenge remains to work out what that action is. The range of options also seems to continue to increase over time. Clearly while the executive, Trustees and Council have roles in marshalling the facts, any significant changes will need the understanding and then the voting support of the full membership. What is perhaps most useful to say right now is that in the short term we need to review those options and keep an eye on the value for the engineering profession as a whole, not any individual arrangement.
Finally, it is good to remind ourselves that our Institution is not just all reviews and long-term strategic planning. Our operations are continuing apace. This week our Water Industry technical advisory committee and our Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group have jointly drawn up a statement about drought and flooding. They highlight the increasing engineering challenge of coping with ever more frequent ‘outlier’ behaviour of shortages followed by heavy rains. They make recommendations on demand management as well as supply flexibility that should be applicable in many countries around the world experiencing extreme weather.”
Interim Chief Executive
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