Meet the President Rebecca Thompson
Rebecca Thompson becomes the 114th CIOB President following a diverse career in construction, housing, heritage and education.
Looking ahead to her year as President, Rebecca used her inaugural speech to confirm her support for past-President Paul Nash’s efforts on ethics and productivity. Her own experience – with substantial time spent in heritage and conservation roles – has provided her an acute sense of responsibility for protecting built assets and a unique insight into how professionalism in the built environment preserves not just buildings but the very culture they bear.
Rebecca is only the second woman to be CIOB President, a fact that illustrates the challenges facing an industry which by its own admission has not had as diverse a workforce as it should have. Naturally, diversity and inclusion will be one of the major themes of Rebecca’s presidency, relating not just to the lack of women in the sector but also the disproportionately low numbers of people with disabilities or those from ethnic minorities.
“At the heart of diversity is inclusion”, Rebecca said. “It’s an attitude of ‘How can I make the work environment more conducive to people doing a good job, regardless of their gender, ethnic background, or any disability’.”
CIOB is committed to addressing the need to promote diversity in a number of ways, including through the setting up of two networks that support diversity in construction – one for people with disabilities, and one for women in management roles.
Rebecca echoed this need for mentoring and support in her speech: “Throughout my career, I was lucky enough to have mentors to encourage me in a world where, to be honest, women have been discouraged. I am grateful for their support, and I hope to pay them back by in turn supporting the next generation.”
Indeed, ensuring that the industry does all it can to attract young people into the sector will be another focus of Rebecca’s presidency. And professionalism plays a key role. As she said in her inaugural speech, ‘the better we make our industry – the more professional we are – the more we will attract young people. We have a tremendous offer: a career in which one can go back to a building years later and say, “I helped build that”.’
Rebecca now runs her own company, Thompson Heritage Consultancy, based in York, which allows her to pursue her passion of preserving Britain’s past, while also helping to build its future, by teaching HNC Building Studies at York College.
Previously, Rebecca spent seven years at York Minister, first as Superintendent of Works and then filling in as Chapter Steward, a chief executive role.
This experience allowed her to pursue her passion of archaeology and history, while sharpening her deep sense of responsibility for preserving our cultural heritage. “We in construction help to build and then maintain structures that outlast us all, carrying on to subsequent generations the original vision and values. And so they shape us, and as Churchill put it regulate the course of our lives.”
Her career started as a Quantity Surveyor at Shepherd Construction, then proceeded through a range of roles as building inspector, commercial manager, and project manager.
She assumed the role of President on 19 June 2017.