This year’s event, as ever, was a great opportunity for many of us to catch-up with CIOB delegates and members and for them to network and have those informal catch-ups that we don’t always get time to have. While it’s true that conversation was not just confined to construction industry matters - the prospect of a new PM is inevitably going to be talked about - there was a great deal of CIOB activity to discuss and a hugely positive feeling about the Institute’s plans.
Among my highlights from this year’s Members’ Forum was the update from the Construction Quality Commission, on Monday at the first workshop of the week. It was fitting to revisit this as it was at Members’ Forum two years ago that the decision was made to set the Commission up. The Commission, under the leadership of Past President Paul Nash, has done a great deal of work to move delivery of quality in the built environment higher up the agenda, politically and within the industry. Quality is one of the most significant issues affecting the sector and will continue to be so. The formal work of the Commission has now come to an end, although we will be taking what we have learned forward under a different guise; our next steps on quality will be to respond to the government’s new consultation on building and fire safety regulations. This is another opportunity to make the case for quality to be a focus for the industry and to share the work of the Commission.
Another highlight for me was the presentation of the new corporate plan. The 2020-2023 plan was developed by the Board of Trustees through collaboration with contributors from the global CIOB community. It is something that, to my mind, links perfectly with the quality agenda – we lead the new corporate plan with the theme of the moral compass of the construction industry. We see our role, as the leading professional organisation in construction management, as being an important point on that moral compass.
We also continue our work on combatting modern slavery in the industry, with the recent article of the arrests in relation to human trafficking for construction emphasising the importance of this hard work. Our thanks to Justice in Motion for their moving depiction of the challenges we face on this topic that we were able to observe at their production of ‘On Edge’ on Tuesday evening. We want to help lead the cultural shift that’s needed to improve professionalism in construction, for the public good, for good.
Driving much of this agenda will be our new President, Professor Charles Egbu FCIOB. He officially took on the presidency from Chris Soffe, who did an excellent job over the last year in talking up the benefits of collaboration and partnership. In handing over to Charles at the President’s Dinner last night, Chris had some very warm words for his successor, praising Charles for his choice of mental health and wellbeing for the theme of his year as President. Chris noted that in construction we have a cultural aversion to confronting mental health issues, saying “we must do better and find ways to improve the mental health of the industry.” Among Charles’ comments in his President’s Dinner speech, it was possibly this that had the most impact: “construction will not be the industry it wants to be until we improve the mental health of the people in it, and CIOB members can be the leaders in making that happen.” I’m very much looking forward to working with Charles over the coming year on this important agenda.
Another highlight from last night – for everyone, as it’s a truly celebratory event – was the announcement of the winner of the Global Student Challenge. No spoilers here – you can head over to the press release to find out who won. The only thing I want to add is that the delegates do a great job in making them feel what it is to be part of our community – these are the members of tomorrow.
In signing off, it only remains for me to thank Chris Soffe for his commitment to and support of the Institute over the last year, to all the members and delegates who shared their views and experiences to help us take our work forward and, of course, the staff who worked their socks off to make the whole thing happen. I believe an excellent time was had by all – roll on next year.