Your Council convened on December 15 for a series of important debates focusing on the future direction of the Institution’s knowledge programme and efforts to increase the levels of membership engagement in activities.
We welcomed seven new members to Council (Njemile Faustin, Ken Ho, Sarah Jones, Julian Lineham, Sally Walters, Julie Wood and Graham Yates) and hope that they gain as much value from the experience as we all have.
This meeting of Council was preceded by two important strategy sessions, which attracted in excess of 700 members each. The first session launched the report: ‘A Systems Thinking Approach to infrastructure delivery, while the second session focused on asset management in the age of climate change. These are excellent examples of the content that the ICE is now producing.
Chair’s opening statements
During my opening remarks I updated council on the Shaping Zero agenda and the activities that we will be undertaking through the year to lay a solid foundation to achieve the carbon net zero target. My hope is that we will be able to draw down our global expertise and develop a set of practical and useful interventions that will help us reduce carbon emissions.
The Knowledge programme
Council was presented with the work to reform the Learning Society in line with the Orr Commission’s recommendations and was asked to approve the proposed membership of the learning society committee, the lead members of the knowledge workstreams and to endorse the proposed programme for 2021.
This was an important opportunity for Council to engage with the proposed member-led programme but to also fully embrace its position as the pinnacle of the Learning Society. The primary focus of the discussion was the acknowledgement that Council would drive future development of the Knowledge programme.
The key elements for this programme are the strategic pillars of:
- Decarbonisation of the industry
- Resilience against the effects of climate change
- Transformation of the availability of potable water, sanitation and clean energy
- Transforming the productivity of our industry
- Putting data and digital at the heart of infrastructure
- Enhancing technical the knowledge, insight and ethical understanding of engineers
These pillars, the topic working groups and the leadership of council will be used to create regular lectures, strategy sessions and tech talks targeted at the relevant audiences.
Council was then split into breakout sessions to focus on each of the pillars and begin to help develop the forward programme. Their reports will be fed into the knowledge programme to produce a proactive and engaging programme for our members and our wider stakeholders.
Improving member engagement
The question as to how to improve member engagement is a challenge that ICE has wrestled with over a protracted period. Following recommendations from the Orr Commission, three member-led focus groups were established in July 2020, to address this issue head-on.
Council received a presentation from Julie Bregullia, who alongside Gary Cutts and Brenda O’Loan had led focus groups on this issue.
Julie was keen to emphasise that efforts to increase engagement should be delivered through existing programmes and not be delivered in isolation. The primary areas identified as requiring improvement were: greater clarity and transparency with regards to how members can engage with ICE; an assessment of the institution’s website to facilitate this and to ensure that the habit of engagement is encouraged early in people’s careers either through universities or employer sign-posting.
These recommendations will now be taken up by the executive team to implement.
Confirming the next president
As a final act of business Council elected Ed McCann to be the next president of the Institution for the 2021 – 2022 session.
Your Council will meet again on 20 April 2021.