16 May 2019
Last Friday, I had the honour of standing in front of a packed room at the House of Lords as the new President of Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE). If anyone had said to me 30 years ago, as I entered our industry as a somewhat meek and mild 18 year old trainee Building Control Officer, that one day I would have the privilege to hold such a role I would never have believed them. But here I am, and what an opportunity this is to help facilitate meaningful change within our industry,
The role of CABE President is all the more intimidating by the fact that I have to follow in the footsteps of our past Presidents, including our now Immediate Past President David Taylor, who has done an exceptional job over the past two years. His drive, enthusiasm and commitment to the role has enabled CABE to make a real impact in our industry and help facilitate much needed change.
Like the gentleman that he is, he has always acknowledged that he managed to do what he did because of the support of our amazing CABE team, led by CEO Gavin Dunn and the continued support of our members. And he is right, CABE, like many membership organisations, is only as strong as its all-important members and the staff that support it and despite being faced by some of the biggest challenges our industry has seen in recent years, CABE has excelled and continues to make a positive and meaningful impact.
This industry has been very good to me – the buildings that I been involved with, the roles and responsibilities that I have held and, more importantly, the people I have had the privilege to meet along the way, never cease to amaze me.
I have a passion for all things built environment related, not least because it touches every part of our lives. Having spent the last three decades in the industry I truly recognise the key role that Building Engineers hold in ensuring that our buildings are truly fit for purpose and where ethics and professionalism are a valued and consistent part of our working environment.
Never has this been more important as we move towards the 2nd anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy. What the world witnessed on that fateful morning of 14 June 2017 is NOT just a matter of fire safety, or even large high-risk residential buildings. Given the reviews,and their findings so far, it has clearly drawn into question many of the established practices within our industry.. There is a need to change the way we design, procure, specify, build, maintain and ultimately check our buildings. In addition, we need far clearer roles and responsibilities for those that work in our industry, and an improved and agreed way to assess the competencies of those same professionals. This is a seminal moment, a once in a generation moment in fact, and we need to change because if we do not then change will be brought upon us.
CABE and its members have always been recognised and respected. However, given our considerable input into the various work streams across the industry currently in response to Grenfell, including those in relation to the various regulatory procedural and technical changes underway and the development of a new competency approach, CABE truly has a seat at the top table.
Regulators, decision makers and other institutions are coming to us for our advice and insight, and long may it continue. For we cannot forget that CABE is one of the few association’s that exists whose members cover the entire lifecycle of a built asset, covering everything from building inception to decommissioning, and everything in-between. And this broad locus, coupled with our application to become a full member of the Engineering Council means we, and the backbone of Association – our members – can go from strength to strength in both a national and international market.
CABE is helping to set the agenda, and it is truly leading by example. The work we have already undertaken with our new Code of Professional Conduct, supported by the new Guide to Ethical Professionalism along with the upcoming Competency Framework for all levels of our membership see us leading by example. We are taking clear action on competency to ensure Chartered Building Engineers are professionals that can be relied upon and clearly recognised as such.
These are all the things and more that I will be looking to push forward with in my Presidential year ahead. We are in such capable hands with our previous Presidents, our Board and our Exec team that our strategic direction has been effectively already set, and we know the role and responsibility we have within the industry.
I hope to use my experience, knowledge and position to support and grow the Association on a national and international perspective, all the while promoting robust professional and ethical standards and the continued importance of good design both within CABE and in collaboration with other professional institutions.
Promoting greater competency; seeking to collaborate in all that we do; driving greater diversity within the Industry, are the things that I will be pushing forward with. It’s about helping to set the collective agenda for our industry and it’s a challenge I am ready for.