Institution news

From Birdcage Walk

Chief Executive

Season's Greetings!
Season's Greetings!

The latest in our ongoing series of updates about activities at the Institution.

Dear Member,

And so we are coming to the end of a memorable year for our Institution.  This year we have seen upheaval within Birdcage Walk with three Presidents, five new Trustees and an almost complete change to your executive team.  And yet it has been another record breaking year for our Charter goal to "promote the development of mechanical engineering".  It looks like we will achieve the largest number of new registrations for us with the Engineering Council; we will have our greatest ever number of "column inches" worldwide for our views on key public issues; and we’ve set records too for attendance at our events.  A case in point is the Christmas Lecture which took place at Exeter University this week with 450 attendees including over 100 schoolchildren who enjoyed a Royal Institution-style event based on saving lives at sea.  Another is the ‘Big Assembly’ where nearly 50,000 students took part in a live broadcast to 800 schools across the UK discussing careers in engineering.  You can watch that one again.  A big thank-you therefore clearly goes out to our thousands of active members who make this all possible.

This will be the last "Birdcage Walk"until we start up again in January, which gives us the prompt to update you on the Governance projects that will complete next year.  There are three separate activities that deserve comment right now.  The first is that we still have members who are concerned about the ability of our disciplinary process to cope with recent events.  We are therefore making it a special focus of our Governance Review to look at how changes might be made.  We are keen to ensure that everyone can see we are keeping up with the best practice across our sector.

The second is publishing our Special Meeting record which is proving to be more difficult than we could have expected.  The legal implications of us writing down all the claims and comments effectively in the Institution’s name are significant.  We continue to work with the Chair of the meeting and our lawyers to find the middle ground that reflects the contributions made from around the world but avoids making things worse.  The results of the voting of course have always been available on our website.

Finally, our Finance Review has made its interim report.  This goes up behind the firewall for all members to read this week.  Those who will look will see a number of concerns but also some constructive suggestions on what steps to take.  Perhaps the most important decision already taken by the Trustee Board, is to run the Learned Society part of our operations at break even in 2019.  They believe that to be possible without reducing front-line member support and it leaves us to allocate the surplus arising from the operating businesses direct to our free reserves and hence strengthen them after many years of reduction.

In closing, it seems correct to end with ‘Seasons Greetings to All Our Readers’.  We have a core group who regularly ‘tune in’ to see what we say and we are very grateful for your interest.  Please remember that you can always comment at the bottom of each article as we certainly welcome your feedback.  2019 promises to be the "Year of the Active Member"and we anticipate many more great achievements with your support.

Thank you.

Colin Brown

Chief Executive (Interim)

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