Reflection of a journey to becoming an active CIOB member

Joanna Poon

Dr Joanna Poon, FCIOB

Head of Discipline – Built Environment at the University of Derby

Last updated: 7th September 2022

My journey to become CIOB member and involvement of CIOB activities

I became a Chartered member of CIOB in 2002, a year after completing my Ph.D in Construction Project Management. I have worked in built environment roles in private, public and higher education sectors in the UK and overseas since then. I took up an academic post in the UK in 2008 and became a Committee Member for the CIOB East Midlands Branch and also served on its Strategy and External Relationship Sub-Committee in the same year. I am glad to have opportunities to work with colleagues from other organisations in the region, to be further involved in the development of CIOB activities and to support our sector. Opportunities presented, I relocated to Australia to take up a post as Acting Discipline Leader for Property and Real Estate with the leading role for developing online postgraduate real estate courses in 2012.

I took up my current post, Head of Discipline – Built Environment at the University of Derby in 2016. I am responsible for academic leadership and management of  Discipline, which consists of a range of undergraduate and postgraduate built environment courses, which are all PSRBs accredited. CIOB accredited BSc (Hons) Construction Management, BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management and MSc Civil Engineering and Construction Management (online and on-campus), which is one of few civil engineering management courses accredited by CIOB in the UK. Courses being accredited by international built environment bodies, such as CIOB, have definitely made an impact on the course reputation, which is reflected in the achievement of student recruitment, Student Survey outcomes and graduate employability. In 2018, I got involved again with CIOB activities, but this time, at a national level, as part of the CIOB Chartered Membership Programme Assessment Committee.

I decided to proceed with my application for Fellowship with CIOB. I attended the CIOB Fellowship Professional Workshop and I became FCIOB in 2020. The workshop was well-structured and the follow-up application support from CIOB colleagues was excellent. It was amazing to feel supported by our professional body to achieve the status as a Fellow, which inspired me to give something back. Shortly after becoming an FCIOB, I was invited to be CIOB Professional Reviewer on Academic and Practitioner Routes. I am also a member of the CIOB Accreditation Panel.

Being a CIOB mentor

In May 2021, the CIOB launched the Mentoring Scheme and called for MCIOB and FCIOB to mentor inspiring colleagues. I had no hesitation in signing up and I have been mentoring colleagues around the world who plan to apply for MCIOB and FCIOB through academic and practitioner routes. It is amazing to connect with colleagues who work in different areas and review their professional membership applications, which I found to be valuable professional development. The applications which I reviewed were well-written and well-structured. The design of the application form has helped the applicants to articulate their experience relevant to each of the criteria to be a Chartered member or fellow. There are a few observations that I have found in draft applications that may be interesting to colleagues who intend to submit MCIOB and FCIOB applications.

Using the CARL approach to structure the application is really a useful method to demonstrate how the experience has addressed each of the competencies required. CARL standards for Circumstance, Action, Result, and Learning. I observe that colleagues have used the CARL approach to discuss some of their competencies. I would recommend using this approach consistently to discuss all competencies within the application as it enables the reviewers, who do not have background knowledge on your work, to understand the impact and also, very importantly, your reflection of the experience. Clearly articulating the individual contributions to the actions is important. After all, it is an application leading to professional membership. Also, clearly state the outcome of the action, whether it is good or has room for improvement. Then it links to a discussion of learning and reflection. Professional development is a big part of being a member of professional bodies; to be able to demonstrate learning from our own experience is important. It is also helpful to state explicitly how the actions demonstrate your competencies. Using examples is a good strategy to support illustration of action and impact. 

Another observation is to use word limits wisely. Use the limited word count to discuss your action, the result and the reflection. Each of the actions included in the application is a significant experience for the applicants and it is not necessary to explain why they are important. The tone of the application is also important. Sometimes, after careful evaluation, the most appropriate strategic decision is not to do certain actions. Present in a positive tone to state the rationale for doing certain actions, rather than giving the impression of not doing it. It is also important to provide clear and well-structured evidence to substantiate the claim. As for the Fellowship application, another observation is to focus on discussing the leadership and management skills and the sustained impact of your work. 

On reflecting on my journey as CIOB member to active involvement in the organisation, I have found that the institution has been revolving and has continuously supported members and driven the increasing status of the profession. I am pleased to see the introduction of the academic route for membership, which demonstrates that CIOB acknowledges the diversity of built environment professions and the contributions of academics to the sector. I am also glad to see there is continuously increasing support from CIOB for colleagues who aspire to become professional members. It is good to see the creation of a mentoring platform that enables existing members to share their experience. I am glad that I am part of it, both as an active member and also as an educator who develops future generations of built environment professionals.