Meet the President Chris Soffe

Chris Soffe is the 115th CIOB President and the first to be based in the US.

In his inaugural speech, at the CIOB’s 2018 Members’ Forum, Chris focused on climate change and collaboration. He emphasised that the challenges of climate change must be met by institutions, including the CIOB, and the industry as a whole working together, internationally where possible.

His belief is that our industry needs to maintain its focus on sustainability and climate change. Chris’ perspective, having been in the US for the past 30 years, comes in part from seeing first hand dramatically increasing urbanisation. He has said that problems caused by outdated infrastructure, congestion and pressures on public services will only be solved by a commitment to joint working across agencies and industries, with the construction sector playing a central part.

It’s also an interesting perspective from someone offering a truly international overview, having started his career in the UK, spending time in Nigeria as a child, and working in Tanzania, Trinidad and the Bahamas. Chris summed up his view: “our global society faces huge challenges in terms of increasing urbanisation, outdated infrastructure, and climate change …we need to be building bridges, not putting up walls.”

In looking at the future of the industry and the use of technology, Chris said: “when I started out in the industry over 40 years ago you would be hard pressed to find a calculator. Now there’s BIM, robots, automation, 3D printing and big data”. He added: “it’s almost unrecognisable from when I joined and for the next generation the industry they will know will change dramatically too and the challenges they face will arguably be even bigger than the ones we solve.”

He has also talked about many of the wider issues facing the industry and the need for adaption and an understanding of how we build buildings to reflect society’s changing needs. He has also talked about the organisation’s influential role: “the CIOB has and can enable great change in the industry, supporting new ideas and innovative ways of doing things so that the wider profession can learn and adapt.”

Chris has been President and CEO of Gleeds Americas since 1991 and is currently based in Atlanta, Georgia, and has recently obtained dual US-UK citizenship. He was born in Hampshire and attended Oxford Brookes University. Chris is a Fellow of the CIOB, an Ambassador, and a representative on Members’ Forum.

Chris assumed the role of President on 9 July 2018.  

Read his full interview with CM Magazine by clicking here.