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Alan Smith departs after setting 'an ideal standard'

GLOBAL YET local and near to you. This is the ICE that Alan Smith hopes to have left behind this week after quitting as communications director.

Smith joined the ICE a year ago, taking on the challenge of making the Institution more responsive to members' needs and raising its profile outside the engineering community. He is returning to HBG Construction as public relations director.

The ICE is still searching for a replacement for Smith, but anyone taking on the job faces a real challenge.

'His will be a very hard act to follow, ' said Midlands association chairman Ted Hiscocks. He added that Smith had set 'an ideal standard'.

In the last year Smith established a dual agenda for improving the Insitution's reach and appeal.

His prime objective, now taken up by new president Joe Dwyer, has been to make the ICE relevant. Dwyer has pledged to continue 'attracting and engaging' the Institution's 80,000 members during his presidential year.

Smith introduced a range of secondary 'superficial' initiatives to achieve this end (see box), which he described as 'catalysts for the real agenda'.

For example, the ICE annual review has been revised. 'The 1999 annual review dealt with 1998. What is the point of that?' Smith queried. The 2000 review, due out next month, will look at 2000, giving it more relevance.

The review's structure has also changed. No longer will it focus on individual departments. Instead, it will 'remind members of why they became members, why they remain members, and tell them why they should do more', said Smith.

It will do this by providing examples of how the Institution is achieving its core objectives of 'being a centre for learning, a qualifying body, a public voice for the profession and a facilitator of best practice'.

But Smith also left with the tantalising prospect of a 'holy grail' for the Institution and the industry at large. Through its Training Index, the ICE has assembled a register of top consultants, contractors, local authorities and clients, Smith explained. 'But this network at present is used to satisfy just one core objective, which is that of a qualifying body.'

The network should become a centre for learning that really adds value to those on the list, Smith argued. The ICE's engineering boards, already being encouraged to do more for the regions, would form the lynchpin of a neutral, best practice forum that would make membership an essential part of any procurement process.

Getting the ICE out into the regions remains critical for Smith's core agenda.

'What has been most appreciated in the last year is Smith's willingness to come and talk to us direct, ' said Hiscocks. This drive was demonstrated to the last. He spent his penultimate day at the Scunthorpe branch of the Yorkshire local association.

Smith s catalysts for change Make your mark campaign A package of information and gifts aimed at raising awareness of civil engineering in schools, launched in April.

New image The new blue and red corporate colours, launched at Civils 2000 in May, are the front end of a complete restructuring at the ICE designed to deliver Smith's integrated communication plan.

Executive secretaries Reflecting political changes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the secretaries were appointed in March to forge closer links between the ICE, opinion formers and its members.

A similar programme is under way with the regional development agencies in England.

Revamped websites Local association websites were revamped in August as part of the new communications strategy. A revamp of the main website is under way.

Vision 2000 To aid the promotion of the Institution in Scotland, a document was produced and delivered to both opinion formers members. Welsh and Irish versions are under way.

Annual review New look, new focus. Will arrive with members this month.

Interactive CD To go to schools throughout the country in January, the CD will show children everything that civil engineering has to offer.

Presentation CD Standing alongside the interactive CD, a presentation CD has been prepared to allow school liaison officers to present a united and inspired view of the civil engineering industry.

Benefits of membership CD Aimed at members, it will reinforce what the ICE has to offer. Available from local associations soon.

The Holy Grail?

A centre for learning developed from the ICE Training Index - watch this space!

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