President's Page May 2017


It’s been quite a year and, by the time you read this, it will only be a couple of weeks before I attend the House of Lords and hand over the chain of office to the president-elect. So I will use my last page to reflect on my year of being President. 

It was a privilege to have been elected President of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers.  

In my inauguration speech I set myself three objectives. 

1. I wanted to inspire others to become globally responsible building engineers 

My inauguration speech set out my thoughts on global responsibilities and engineering, and I went on to arrange a day at CABE HQ with invited speakers from Engineers Without Borders and the International Ethics Commission to come and speak with CABE regional officers, the Board and CABE Executive.  

I’ve travelled around the CABE regions in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland speaking on the subject. I was particularly pleased fellow Board Member and Chairman of the North West Region, Christine Leigh, went on to attend some Engineers Without Borders Ambassador training. Christine, you are a star!  

I crossed a few more borders myself throughout the year and presented on the subject throughout Asia and visited Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia. 

As I write this page I am getting close to participating in the London Marathon 2017. I’ll be running for both Engineers Without Borders and Action Against Hunger. Running 42.195 kilometres or 26.219 miles will be a public test of private will and the months of solitary training, early mornings, lost weekends, rain and pain will mature into triumph or surrender.

2. I wanted to encourage communication and collaboration between CABE and other professional bodies in order to promote cross-discipline thinking 

I have had meetings with many Presidents of other professional bodies. I’ve met the President of RIBA, the President of RICS, the Chief Executive of the Engineering Council and many more. I organised and spoke at some joint events between the Institution of Fire Engineers and Chartered Association of Building Engineers and I have supported staff at HQ in organising a venue and speakers for the forthcoming inaugural buildeng Scotland. I visited Northern and Southern Ireland and presented on the benefits of a deeper collaboration between the fire engineering and security engineering professions. I am also pleased to say that the President-elect, David Taylor, will take this objective forward and continue to build strong links with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). 

As a proud Chartered Engineer (CEng) I have been very vocal in talking about the benefits of CABE gaining a licence with the Engineering Council. It would seem that we are not far away from that and I would urge all members to explore the Engineering Council website. It is an opportunity to enhance our reputation nationally and internationally. To make this change requires two thirds of all voting Chartered Members to be in favour so when the vote takes place, please support the change. It’s a huge opportunity and I hope to see us gain a licence in the not-too-distant future. 

3. My third and final objective is to raise awareness of the importance of professional and ethical standards 

All professional bodies claim adherence to a code of ethics and an obligation to serve the public interest as a special quality that differentiates their members from others lacking a professional designation. Some of you will have read The Edge Commission Report on the Future of Professionalism and will, therefore, know that the standing and perceived value of professions is being challenged. Following discussions with our Chief Executive and the Executive team, CABE has committed to promote the development and implementation of an International Ethics Standard by signing the International Ethical Standards Coalition declaration.

CABE’s vision includes two ambitions that resonate with me – to be:
1. the body of choice for forward-thinking individuals and organisations
2. renowned for maintaining the highest possible standards and making a valuable contribution to society at a local, national and global level.

CABE’s vision, however, should inspire us to go further. The next step will be to review the way we enforce our rules of conduct and hold members to account. I know our incoming President is also passionate about raising standards and will be taking this forward. 

A successful Presidential year underpins the claim to greatness of many presidents. I’ve certainly enjoyed my year. I’ve travelled, I’ve met interesting people, I’ve learnt, I’ve run, I’ve lost weight and I’ve given back. I’m positive about the future of CABE. We will have two fantastic Vice-Presidents on the presidential ladder, set to become Presidents. Dr Gavin Dunn, whose day job is Director of the Building Performance Group at the Building Research Establishment, and then we will have Ant Burd – Head of Built Environment at the British Standards Institution (BSI). 

Finally, I’d like to dedicate my Presidential Year to Mr Ian Webster. Ian helped me put my first foot on the career ladder and sadly passed away during my Presidential term. John Quincy Adams once said: ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader’. 

Ian Webster was a leader and a great inspiration to me. A truly irreplaceable man of enormous standing, reputation and friendship, I only wish I’d been fortunate enough to spend more time with him.