Vice-President's Page July 2018

VPP Jul 18


To pen an article for such a prestigious and respected publication as the CABE Building Engineer Journal is an honour for me. Little did I imagine, when I signed up for membership of ABE as a green Building Control trainee in 2004, that I would be invited to join the Board and then, this year, to be elected to the Presidential team. Such a privilege for me – I hope that I will do the role justice.

The Construction industry is rarely out of the news these days – with the Carillion collapse, the Hackitt Review and the opening of the Public Enquiry into the tragic events of Grenfell. As I put the finishing touches to this piece it is the anniversary of the fire and I sit in silent, quiet reflection with others across the nation, in respect for those who lost their lives and loved ones and those whose lives have been irrevocably impacted by the dreadful events of that night.

These are interesting times and 2018 brings exciting changes for CABE. It is excellent news for the membership that one of the last tasks completed by our outgoing Chief Executive, John Hooper, was to broker the best deal for the Association with the Engineering Council. This led to a resounding YES vote from members to becoming a full licensed body and offering us all the opportunity to progress to Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.
I am thrilled to enter my vice-presidency working alongside such experienced individuals as David Taylor, Ant Burd and all of the Board. They volunteer their time and expertise to make our professional organisation a leading force. Members can be assured they are represented by the cream of the crop and I would encourage everyone to engage with their regional groups and attend the conferences, exhibitions and events that are proving increasingly popular year on year.

It was at the South West Regional Conference at Hayes Motor Museum in Sparkford that our new CEO, Dr Gavin Dunn dragged me away from the shiny red sports cars at lunchtime and invited me to take on the role of ‘Diversity Champion’ for CABE. ‘What would this entail’, I asked? Well, as we all should be aware, our industry is still blighted by a poor record on Equalities and Diversity. Looking around at the delegates in Somerset, it was clear that the construction professions, and engineering in particular, are still dominated by the traditional white middle class male – also mostly well into middle age too!
British companies have been accused of giving pitiful excuses for the lack of women employed at high level positions, ranging from ‘...the board room being an uncomfortable place for women...’ to ‘...the issues discussed at board level are very complex...’.

I have held non-executive positions on the boards of two prestigious organisations and owned and managed my own consultancy. My personal experience is that it is not uncomfortable, nor are the issues discussed beyond the comprehension of someone of average intelligence.
So, Gavin has asked me to work with CABE to see if we can redress the balance. A challenge indeed, but one I am delighted to run with.

As luck would have it I have just changed jobs and the organisation I now work for has a very strong and forward thinking corporate Equalities and Diversity policy. I was very pleased to find that the teams I am leading have an above average quota of women in technical roles.

Let me reassure readers that I don’t consider myself to be a militant feminist, but I have never considered that my gender should ever be a reason for not doing something. I was fortunate to have strong female role models and positive encouragement from family, friends and employers. In fact, I believe this is the reason I have had the confidence to ‘give it a go’. That – and the ability to see the glass as half-full – has enabled me to grasp passing opportunities where perhaps others would see obstacles. And this is why I gladly accepted Gavin’s challenge.

Of course there are other under-represented groups that should not be ignored. My aim is to encourage everyone to consider that a career as a Building Engineer is NOT exclusive and to work with businesses and organisations to improve their culture to be more welcoming and accepting to all. I would welcome ideas and suggestions from any of our members who have interests in this area and you can contact me through CABE.
Which brings me back to where I started…the opportunities that have existed for me exist for everyone if they are willing to engage and volunteer and reap the benefits of their CABE membership ... I look forward to representing you all in the coming years.

Jayne Hall BSc(Hons) C.Build E VPCABE FCABE

Vice-President (junior!)