Institution news

'Inside Track' - latest update from our President

Peter Flinn, President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Welcome to the latest edition of "Inside Track", providing regular updates on the Institution's Trustee Board activities.

This is the second edition of Inside Track for the 2021/22 year. It’s based mainly on the Trustee Board meeting held on 28th July and, as before, it aims to give you a brief summary of our discussion.

Trustee Board welcome

The board gave a warm welcome to Dr. Alice Bunn, who joined as Chief Executive on 5th July, and wished her well in her new role. Particular thanks were also offered to Dr. Colin Brown for his efforts as CEO over the past 3 years and for his contribution more generally to the Institution since 2005.

D&I moment

Roy Allan presented a model that proposes 4 levels of psychological safety (Timothy R.Clark, 2020) and discussed how it links with the Institution’s 4 values. Later in the meeting, the dynamics of this particular TB meeting were discussed in the context of this model.

The key strategic items

The key strategic items for discussion this time spanned future plans for the Birdcage Walk buildings, the development of our overall strategy document, the exciting plans we have to showcase the work of the Institution and its membership around COP26, and an initial discussion on the pros and cons of becoming a certifying body.

The Board reviewed Helena Rivers’ report from Real Estate Strategy Group which provided an update on the proposed major programme on the Birdcage Walk buildings and proposed a member vote on the subject in September. Noting that this was one of the most significant decisions of the membership over the past decade, the Board agreed that a number of milestones would need to be met before a proposal was ready to be put to the vote. These included completion of the proposal to a RIBA Stage 2 level, agreement of the financial case by the Finance Board, sign-off of the risk analysis by the Audit & Risk Committee and drafting of a logistics plan for the period of refurbishment. The board also agreed that an extensive communications plan would be needed to ensure that the membership felt equipped to take the vote, anticipated now in the November timeframe.

The board noted good progress presented by Giles Hartill, chair of the Strategy Committee, in consolidating the wide-ranging of inputs received, and continuing to be received, from all parts of the Institution.  As well as confirming the necessity of the current phase of digital development, the general direction of travel was to continue to develop the top-level Institution strategy document (inc. both ‘confidential’ internal and ‘public-facing’ external versions) covering Charitable Purpose, Vision, Mission, Strategic Objectives, and KPIs with an interim version by Sept 21, and a full version by May 22.

Ross O’Brien reported that plans were well developed for a 2-day Institution conference to be held at Birdcage Walk in the week before COP26. The conference (Making COP26 matter: Engineering a net-zero future - Oct 28th/29th) would include discussions, debates and lectures focussed on the three themes of Energy Transition, Clean Transport, and Cities & the Built Environment. All Institution members will be able to attend virtually. Further details will be sent in the coming weeks about how to get involved.

Raymond Hodgkinson and Mark Pepperell presented initial thoughts about the Institution becoming a certifying body and the board agreed that the proposal should be developed in more detail.

In Operational updates

Alice Bunn reported that most of the objectives in the business plan are ‘on track’ with recent highlights including good progress with apprentice end point assessments, successful delivery of the various student challenges, and the Institutions’ contribution to the Royal Academy’s policy report on Covid resilience. Sean Fox presented financial details for the six months to the end of June, concluding that some areas were ahead of forecast, and some behind, but there was good confidence that the overall budget could be met.  The board also accepted a proposal from Richard Judge, as the incoming chair of PEP Limited, for his approach to reviewing future policies towards this group of businesses.

Council report

Martin Robinson presented a 7-page summary report of the Council’s activities for the year 2020/21. Topics covered included: (i) the working arrangements adopted during the Covid pandemic, (ii) group discussions completed on strategy and HQ buildings, (iii) future tasks, (iv) Terms of Reference, (v) motions put to Council meetings.  Martin was thanked for his, and Council’s work over the course of 2020/21 which form a good basis for the current year.

QMB report

Ralph Melhuish presented his half-yearly report, which required no decisions but noted three points: (i) the purpose and accountabilities of QMB, (ii) 5-year renewal of the Engineering Council licence, and (iii) the publication of a new version of UK-SPEC. Ralph and his team were thanked for their considerable efforts in supporting this key Institution activity, especially for securing the latest 5-year licence.


Well, I hope you found the above to be of interest. As always, your feedback is welcome. You can reach me on, or if you have some specific feedback on the topics above please use

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Peter Flinn MA MBA CEng FIMechE

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