Institution news

Inside Track - latest update from our President

Terry Spall, President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Terry Spall, IMechE President
Terry Spall, IMechE President

Welcome to the first edition of "Inside Track" a new communication to provide regular updates on the Institution's Trustee Board activities.

The purpose is to allow more members and stakeholders to have a greater insight into the work being done by the Trustees. Inside Track will be issued shortly after each Trustee Board meeting and will summarise some of the key topics that have been discussed and any associated decisions taken. This first edition is being emailed to all members, but future editions will only appear in the normal Institution social media channels unless you subscribe to receive "Inside Track" by email.

Trustee Board Meeting, 17 June 2020

2020/21 Trustee Board

As the new President, I had the pleasure to welcome all the newly-elected Trustee Board members, Peter Flinn, Heather Clarke, Vijay Raman, Helena Rivers and Ross O’Brien. Election turnout was 8%, significantly lower than normal and likely impacted by the COVID situation but regardless we will be investigating to understand the reasons. This year we will be making a number of changes aimed at increasing the transparency of the Institution’s governance activities and improving communications to try and keep members better informed and more engaged. We have eight planned Trustee Board meetings this year.

Council

Over the past year the Council Coordinating Committee have successfully implemented changes to improve the effectiveness of Council. This has included exploiting virtual meeting technology - ahead of when the pandemic forced it upon us and these improvements have been welcomed. The future composition/operation of Council is still being debated and at this Board meeting we were updated on Council’s proposed new terms of reference. No decision has yet been taken on this and dialogue will continue between Council, the Implementation Group (chaired by Dr Kerry Mashford and tasked by the Trustee Board to implement the Governance Review recommendations) and all stakeholders to reach a consensus on how the Governance Review recommendations can best be applied in this area.

Qualifications and Membership Board (QMB) Update

Two papers were presented, one covering subscription rates for members on lower incomes, with proposals to increase the eligibility thresholds (which haven’t changed for a long period) and update them annually in line with inflation and a second paper considering non-compliance with CPD obligations and associated sanctions. The recommendations of both papers were approved. Discussion also took place on whether it was appropriate to have a special designation of postnominals for retired members who were no longer pursuing CPD.

Implementation Group (IG) Update

The new Chair of the IG, Dr Kerry Mashford updated the trustees on key aspects of the work currently underway. A few of the highlights include: The formation of a new Nominations Committee (NOMCO) to provide greater objectivity and transparency in the process of identifying and nominating suitable candidates for Trustee and Council positions and also to extend NOMCO’s remit to other key Boards and Committees. During the meeting, the new Chair of NOMCO was confirmed as Past President Isobel Pollock-Hulf OBE. Significant work was also underway on future communication strategies to both ensure members are better informed on Institution matters and are provided with greater engagement opportunities. The Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Regulations have been extensively revamped and are now going through legal checks and approvals before final Trustee approval is given for their release.

COVID-19 Impacts

Dr Colin Brown and Sean Fox reported on the latest financial forecasts, the situation regarding staff furloughing and other measures being taken to mitigate against the impact of the lockdown and to ensure the Institution emerges in good shape. The situation is being closely managed by the Exec team to ensure we are as agile as possible and further mitigation opportunities are not missed. Our HQ building is currently closed, but it is hoped that it will start to reopen early in July - assuming Government advice doesn’t change in the meantime.

Strategic planning

A new Strategy Committee (STRATCOM) is being formed to lead the development of strategy for the Institution. This will operate on a hub and spoke arrangement with governance/operational boards and Council having individual strategy groups feeding into STRATCOM, which will report into the Trustee Board. STRATCOM will consider our global operations, our real estate strategy, relevance, diversity and inclusion alongside many other aspects in developing medium and long-term strategy. Recruitment for STRATCOM will be starting soon and will be overseen by NOMCO, searching out members who have relevant skills and experience to contribute to this key function.

Culture and behaviours

In the membership surveys that supported the 2019 Governance Review, feedback suggested organisational culture and behaviour was an area which could be improved. The Trustees recognise the importance of this and also the fact that it is something that will need to be developed over a period of time as it is not something you can instantaneously change. A staff/member working group is being set up to focus on how such change can be brought about. 

Feedback

I hope the above has provided you with some further insight into your Trustee Board and the current matters they are dealing with. Your feedback is welcomed;and will be collated together and reported back to the next Trustee Board meeting.

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