Institution news

'Inside Track' - latest update from our President

Peter Flinn, President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

This is the fourth edition of Inside Track for the 2021/22 year and it’s based mainly on the Trustee Board meeting held on 2 November. As before, it aims to give you a brief summary of our discussion.


The President welcomed Martin Robinson, Chair of IMechE Council, and Michael Hirst, the representative of the Young Members’ Board. Welcome was also extended to David Andrews, Anni Broadhead, Mark Jackson and Jake Fraser for their respective items later in the meeting.

Inclusion moment

Peter Flinn also provided this meeting’s inclusion moment using Johnson & Johnson Inc.’s ‘Credo’ as the core topic. This company, now with sales revenue of $82.6bn and employing 134,000 staff, was founded in 1876. In 1943 it adopted its credo which lays out the principles about how it should deal with the medical community, patients, employees, and shareholders. The core message is that this is an excellent example of an organisation which is driven by its principles, ethics, values and diversity and at the same time is very successful.

The key strategic items for discussion in this meeting covered the business plan for 2022 and the future plans for the Birdcage Walk buildings.

2022 Business Plan Development

Alice Bunn presented the approach being taken to the development of the 2022 Business Plan which uses the interim output of the Strategy Committee’s work as the start point. The Business Plan centres around ‘development of impact’ and ‘development of membership’ as the two key drivers, along with 6 ‘enablers’. At present the budget ‘ask’ exceeds affordability for a breakeven budget, with pressures coming through increased IT amortisation, extra governance costs, extra policy resources and a moderate view being taken on subscription increases. The emphasis for the next few weeks will be in how to achieve the break-even objective, with the aim of agreeing the final business plan and budget at the Trustee meeting in December

HQ buildings

The President introduced this item by presenting a summary overview of the project’s current position, with the key focus being on the ongoing member consultation due to continue until the last week of November. The view in the meeting, through an informal vote, was to move to a two stage process: an indicative vote on potential options, which would each need a description, followed by a formal vote on the favoured option. Trustees will meet again to review the outcome of the consultation and agree concrete next steps towards a member vote.

In operational updates

Alice Bunn reported good progress versus the Business Plan, with exceptions in the forecast IT improvements, internal audit plan, CPD analysis and publication of a handbook on values and behaviours. These are expected to rollover into the business plan for 2022. In terms of financial performance, Sean Fox reported that the Institution is on track to achieve its target of breaking even or possibly making a small surplus over 2021.

Engineering Heritage Committee

The annual report from the committee was presented by David Andrews. Since its formation, it has made 131 awards although 2020/21 was a very quiet period due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, progress has been made with heritage videos, an awards book in electronic form, contact with schools and with the Parliamentary Industrial Heritage Committee. It was agreed that the Committee should look at how it might contribute to the 175th anniversary.

Support Network

Anni Broadhead provided her annual report for the IMechE Support Network (The Benevolent Fund of the IMechE), which is established as a separate charitable entity. Its work falls into the areas of well-being support, practical help and financial assistance. It has an international dimension with one trustee based in Nigeria. The priorities for 2021 are mental health initiatives, career futures, foundation grant-making and placing D&I at the centre of all that is done. Income and expenditure currently run at about £850k p.a.

Free Reserves policy

The Trustee board approved a new risk-based free reserves policy which is in line with best practice guidance from the Charity Commission. An immediate target of £11.6m was agreed made up of £7m for OBW refurbishment, £1m for IT modernisation and £3.6m for other risks. Finding a solution for the HQ building would obviously have an immediate impact on the target level of free reserves.

Pandemic Control Task Force

Mark Jackson reported that this group had been set up in March 2021 to continue the work of the earlier Covid-19 group. The plan is to continue the task force to mid-2022 and then to establish a new Division or Group. In the meantime, the task force will continue its work on the possibility of certified training, and the development of further case studies, promotional material and member engagement toolkits. It will also continue its work of public engagement and lobbying.

Values & Behaviours Work

Roy Allan and Bims Alalade provided an overview of the work they are leading on values and behaviours, complementing the D&I programme. The board agreed that two workstreams should be pursued: the first is continuous and embeds the four values that the Institution embraces (the ‘4i’s’ – inclusion, integrity, innovation and impact); the second is a finite task concerned with developing a behaviours handbook and panel, integrated with current management, discipline, governance, and employment policies. On the latter subject, Roy is planning a workshop of involved parties during November


I hope you find the above to be of interest and your feedback is always welcome. You can contact me at

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Peter Flinn MA MBA CEng FIMechE

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