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Annual review

Annual Report 2021

Within the Annual Report, read about our values, strategic goals, strategic enablers and vision for 2030.

President's Statement

In the latter part of 2021, we started our celebrations to mark the 175 years of our Institution’s existence. In the autumn of 1846, a small group of prominent engineers of the day called a series of meetings where they proposed the arrangements for a new society to be called ‘The Institution of Mechanical Engineers’. They wanted to help engineers to learn by meeting and corresponding and, through their efforts, ‘provide an impulse to inventions useful to the world’.

And that’s what we are still doing! Our strategy work in 2021 has confirmed our aim of being a world-leading, global and inclusive engineering membership organisation. It is from this base that we can collectively aspire to ‘improve the world through engineering’.

On a more practical level, the continuing COVID-19 epidemic didn’t make this easy in 2021. However, we managed a full programme of activities, sometimes delivered in an unconventional manner. As always when under pressure, new ways of doing things have emerged, mainly online, which will help us in the future as we grow our presence across the world.

In the middle of 2021, Dr. Colin Brown retired from the CEO position having worked for 3 years in this demanding role in challenging circumstances. We are all grateful for his reassuring presence both over this period and in earlier years. Our new CEO, Dr Alice Bunn, has made an energetic start and I have enjoyed working with her as we take our Institution forward. In particular, we have through her guidance started to improve our impact with government and policymakers.

Another part of our history, the Birdcage Walk building, has continued to occupy our attention. By the turn of the year, we had completed a substantial consultation about future options and in early 2022 we launched an indicative poll with three fundamentally different options. This poll, in which over 10,000 members took part, found that the option of keeping One Birdcage Walk as our headquarters building had most support from members. Confirmation of this approach requires approval in a Special Meeting after which, all being well, we can proceed with the much-needed building programme.

Terry Spall was our President for the first five months of 2021, and I would particularly like to thank him for his emphasis on concluding the member-led governance changes started several years ago. Those changes are now bearing fruit: we have a much more active Nominations Committee under Isobel PollockHulf OBE that is casting the net widely in seeking out new volunteers and improving the diversity of our active-member community. We have launched our Strategy Committee, led by Giles Hartill, and that is giving greater clarity to our long-term thinking; and our Technical Strategy Board overseen by Paul Jones is setting out the direction for our learned society work at a time when technological opportunities could not be greater.

Finally, I wish Phil Peel well as he takes up the 2022/23 presidency. Phil, as Chair of the Finance Board, has overseen our finances for the last four years. During this period, the financial position has stabilised and improved considerably. I’m confident that he will rise to the wider leadership role of President.

Thank you to everyone - members and our excellent staff - who have supported me during the last twelve months; being President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has been an unforgettable experience.

Peter Flinn
136th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers



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