And so, as our Institution turns 174 years old this month, it’s time to report on the latest changes and modernisation we have underway to ensure we are ‘fit for purpose’ as a learned society intended to bring “an impulse to inventions likely to be useful to the world”.
For those of you who have been following our recent history, you will know that Dr Kerry Mashford has been leading our Implementation Group putting the final touches to the 96 improvements highlighted in the Reviews of 2018 and 2019. They will all be in place, or at least plans for what to do in each case, by the time of our Presidential handover in May. You may well already have seen some of the changes with a new Finance Board, with a new and more open Nominations Committee and with a completely new Governance Department keeping an eye on how we operate. There are two areas in particular however where we want you to think about now regarding what is changing.
The first is our Charter and its supporting By-Laws. These are the principal documents that control what we do and they are regulated by the UK Privy Council. They run to 29 pages of fine print, but we need to go through them in detail to ensure they encourage the sort of operations our Implementation Group is now requiring. What we have found is that in order to support changes to our Trustee Board, to our data protection, to our monitoring of member Continuous Professional Development and also just to keep up with advances in digital technology, we will need to make around 75 updates. None of these changes however can be made without the support of a successful ballot of the entire Corporate Membership.
We therefore plan to let everyone know of the proposals worked up by Implementation Group, Council, Trustee and staff representatives. These which will come out for your judgement in the pack with the annual Council and Trustee elections. You will be able to see them in detail via the website and we will make sure Corporate Members have many chances to study them and ask questions if they would like to.
Which brings us to the second of the two areas we would like you to think about, and that is our annual election process. The Nominations Committee have swung into action quickly to make sure each and every one of the positions is to be contested. That includes President-Elect, Vice President, Ordinary Trustee and all Council positions. That means your vote really counts. You will therefore see other improvements to make sure that, even if you do not know the candidates beforehand, you can learn enough about them from the process for you to feel confident about your choices when casting your votes. It really matters who leads our Institution, and the diversity of the ballot paper is testament to the incredible breadth and perspective amongst our membership who have stepped forward to help shape and lead our Institution.
In closing, it is important to reflect on what our Institution can be in this locked down, online, world. Even more, we would like you to think of it as a community of like-minded professionals who help each other and society to benefit from what they do. It’s an old adage that you only get out what you put in, but this year, perhaps more than at any time in our recent history, a vote for modernisation, and votes for which of our colleagues you would like to see as our leaders, would be a real contribution to ‘improving the world through engineering’.