ICE PRESIDENT Sir Alan Cockshaw got his presidency off to a business- like start last month.
Chairing Council for the first time, he said there were big challenges facing the Institution, much work to do but big rewards to reap. 'As we start the new year let's get off our backsides and do it.'
He treated the meeting as less of a gathering of gentlemen of a venerable learned society and more of a high level board meeting of a multinational corporation. Despite turning up five minutes late for the first meeting of the 179th session of ICE Council, Cockshaw set an authoritarian tone to the proceedings.
In a peptalk before formal discussions got under way, he urged Council members: 'This is a new session. There are some very significant challenges from the Presidential Commission. Now we've got to get on with it.'
Cockshaw stressed: 'It's we, not me or the Director General. It's all the people here today and in all the local associations. We've got to do it together.'
Working together is 'so much easier' than working separately, he added. There should be a spirit of co-operation throughout the ICE.
During the meeting, which included debates on budgets and the future of the board of incorporated engineers and technicians, Cockshaw kept a firm hand on proceedings but allowed Council members to have their say.
Cockshaw announced that the 'matters of moment' section of Council meetings, introduced by past president David Green, is to be restructured. This section was introduced so that Council members could raise current issues affecting the civil engineering profession. 'It doesn't work very well. Real matters of moment don't come out,' claimed Cockshaw.
Members were asked to 'put a paper forward' to enable a better structured discussion. 'I would like Council to be able to focus more and more on the issues of tomorrow.'
Cockshaw also announced a wholesale review of ICE's management structure. 'We are looking at ways to reduce costs and more effectively manage what we do.' He said: 'What we presently have will not do for what we have collectively decidedly we need for the future'.
Council members called for rapid results following up the Future Framework Presidential Commission. 'Members need to see some change fairly quickly,' said member Ken Wilson.
Cockshaw replied: 'I'm putting my neck on the block. I've committed myself to doing it and all members of Council must do the same. 'We must be seen to be making changes.'
The increasing importance of an effective public relations strategy was also highlighted by Cockshaw. ICE's PR has already made enormous gains but needs to improve still further, he stressed. 'So that the media feels we're worth talking to about affairs of the day.'
Every local association needs to be able to communicate with local media, added Cockshaw. 'We do have to raise the level of our game very substantially.'
ICE can also raise its profile with government, said Cockshaw. 'I shall do something about that during my time in office,' he pledged. 'The opportunities for us are colossal.'