Whenever I book a rail ticket, I always make a point of selecting a forward facing seat, not because I get travel sick if facing rearwards but more that I’d like to see where we are going. The same is very true of my presidential year so far, there has never been a more important time to be in the forward facing seats, to be thinking about the future and what we can do to ensure it is as bright as possible.
COVID-19 aside, the Institution is starting to feel very different, not so much in its physical appearance but more in how we are working and the drive to better engage and communicate with our members globally, be much more transparent and accountable and to really think strategically.
The overhaul of of our governance, being driven by Dr Kerry Mashford and her Implementation Group is making great progress. One of the big changes has been the creation of a new way of nominating members for positions in our main boards and committees. Many members have expressed a desire to get more involved, but have found it very difficult to do so. Hopefully over recent months, you will have seen a significant change with many requests for expressions of interest in many key roles across the Institution and many more will follow. The search and selection process is now driven by our new Nominations Committee (NOMCO), chaired by Isobel Pollock-Hulf; this is allowing us to engage many more in the core governance and operation of the Institution. Of course, I do speak with some bias when I say it is a great thing to do; I have been involved throughout my career and it has been a very fulfilling experience - more than justifying the time commitment it takes.
I am never happier than when I have a week ahead filled with activities that allow me to engage with our members and key stakeholders. Under pandemic restrictions, that has been done almost entirely virtually – and if anything this has allowed me to reach out to more people, regardless of their geographic location. For sure, it would be great to get out and about to meet people and as an eternal optimist, I really look forward to that in the second half of my presidential year.
Sitting in the forward facing seats is also a good analogy to segway into the work being done to develop the Institution’s strategy. We are fortunate to have President Elect, Peter Flinn taking a lead on this, as he brings a wealth of experience in developing corporate strategy. Peter has been charged with setting in motion a completely new approach to how our global strategy is developed. A new strategy team is being formed utilising NOMCO, to help find people who can drive this process, this opportunity has been extended to all members to be part of the team driving this crucially important activity.
I recently met Stephen Metcalfe, MP to talk about the governments perspective on engineering and the contribution it can make to help a COVID weary economy. It was reassuring to hear engineering and technology is very much seen as part of the solution and he encouraged closer working from all of the professional engineering institutions to advise government. In a recent meeting I had with the presidents of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Engineering Technology, we talked about this and it is clear that much enthusiasm exists to collaborate more closely in our engagement with government. We are now considering how this can best be achieved and I hope to be able to report on this as we make progress.
It is probably too soon to be making valedictory comments about the impending festive season, so I will simply finish by a call to action for all of our members to join us in the metaphorical forward facing seats and together map out the future of our Institution. If you feel you have something to offer your Institution then please do engage, wherever you are in the world. With the right people in the right seats, I firmly believe we can make a difference and demonstrably deliver on our mission of improving the world through engineering.