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Casebourne, Fleming: your verdict

ICE president George Fleming asked sister magazine NCE to poll its readers on what sort of job he and chief executive Mike Casebourne were doing. Here are the results

MODERNISATION OF the ICE and resolving the ongoing debate over professional qualifications are the key issues for President George Fleming, his successor Joe Dwyer and chief executive Mike Casebourne, according to New Civil Engineer readers.

While the recent questionnaire in NCE generated a huge range of suggestions for what the ICE should start doing, keep doing and stop doing, the majority made reference to the need to continue to 'bring the ICE into the 21st century' and 'stop meddling with training and entry requirements'.

Readers urged the ICE to 'get on with it' and 'stop living in the past'.

Respondents' opinions about the personal performances of Fleming and Casebourne also varied greatly. In both cases, as many gave the thumbs up as blew raspberries. The average score was 5.5 for both - midway between 1 and 10.

But a noticeable number of respondents had no opinion on either man's performance with around one quarter of the poll unable to give a rating.

One asked: 'What is a president supposed to do?' Another - pointing out that they felt insufficiently aware of what each was supposed to be doing - said: 'It is necessary to learn precisely what Fleming has achieved in the role of president. I have no benchmark against which to rate (Casebourne's) conduct.'

On the whole, readers seemed to believe that the ICE was trying to change from 'a stuffy 19th century organisation'. The ICE, said one, must 'change, change, change', and added: 'In 20 years time a traditional civil engineering education will be redundant.'

The ICE must 'keep being a learned society' and 'continue to maintain the excellent reputation that the ICE has overseas'. Another urged: 'Keep making the ICE user friendly' and 'keep modernising into a democratic, transparent and accountable 21st century body and tackling ethical issues.' And 'keep trying to widen the membership to all construction professionals', the ICE was told.

Most of those replying to the questionnaire had concerns about the ongoing review of membership routes alongside the Engineering Council's SARTOR reforms. 'Keep the entry requirements at a predetermined standard and leave them at that rather than continually moving the goal posts, ' insisted one.

'The ICE will change any rule or regulation to increase membership, ' added another. 'Stop navel gazing and tinkering with the membership structure, ' and 'stop internal wrangling and changes in the qualification process', echoed another.

And while there was much general praise for the job being carried out by Fleming and Casebourne, both received some criticism .

Fleming's comments that women may make better leaders of the civil engineering profession than men were challenged by many. His 'ill-informed comment on the respective merits of male and female engineers was sexism to the extreme', said one. 'Stop making fatuous remarks about women's engineering capabilities, ' ordered another.

One respondent asked: 'Has nobody heard of the Equal Opportunities Act?'

Casebourne, on the other hand, was subjected to criticisms of a more personal nature.

'I give Casebourne 2/10 for wearing belt and braces and allowing himself to be photographed, ' said one reader.

'Ditch the white shirt and red braces and look like the leader of an industry that means business and is efficient, ' said another.

Other suggestions

'Allow members to pay their subscription by monthly direct debit.'

'Keep the exhibitions at Great George Street - the present one is excellent.'

'Stop wasting money abroad. Do the Chinese want to join an institution controlled by the Privy Council - of course not.'

'The library (at Great George Street) is excellent - other services are poor.'

'Get an American style registration system for engineers.'

'Get more in touch with the whole membership.'

'Remember that the majority of members do not live in London.'

'Canvass members' opinions more often and have regular question and answer roadshows.'

'Keep devolving day to day management of local affairs to the regions.'

'Stop spending money on a building that most members seldom, if ever, visit.'

'Stop focusing on making money from Great George Street.'

Status and pay

'The ICE must start getting actively involved in the salary and skills shortage debate.'

'The ICE should stop worrying about the status of civil engineering.'

'Start proclaiming the fantastic achievements of civil engineers in this society.'

'Stop wingeing about poor pay. If we think we should have more, get out there and earn it.'

'The ICE must give engineers the credibility enjoyed by lawyers, accountants and architects.'

'Establish a minimum wage for MICE.'

'Keep moving forward, being dynamic, being sexy.'

Promoting the profession

'The ICE should continue its promotion of the profession with politicians and the public so that one day we get the same recognition that engineers enjoy overseas.'

'I am not aware of (Fleming or Casebourne) having done anything that has made the press.'

'Keep our name in front of every MP and ensure that we appear on TV news regularly as a voice of authority.'

'Stop letting architects get all the credit for new buildings and structures.'

'The ICE must get itself on TV more.'

The President

'Consider increasing the term of office for the President to get more continuity of policy and initiatives.'

'Elect presidents for three years and have candidates from any of the corporate membership - open election.'

'Promote younger members to higher profile positions - not men in their 40s but men and women in their 30s.'

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