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Ferguson takes reins from retiring Bhogul

ICE news - Former NCE editor Hugh Ferguson took over from retiring ICE deputy director general Amar Bhogal last month.

HUGH FERGUSON is looking forward to being on the front line of ICE affairs in his new role as deputy director general.

He replaces Amar Bhogal, who announced in early October that he was stepping down for health reasons.

Ferguson has spent the last 14 years as managing director of Thomas Telford, the ICE's commercial arm - a position he will still keep - but will now be second in command to lead the Institution.

His interest in the ICE spans three decades and began when he was a reporter for NCE.

After six years dabbling in transport planning, a chance meeting with an NCE reporter convinced him to change career. Attracted by the prospect of getting under the skin of the civil engineering industry, international travel and ridiculous working hours, Ferguson took up the challenge.

'It was absolutely marvellous, completely absorbing and immensely satisfying, ' he says adding that he is still an avid reader.

NCE was fi rst published in 1972, and was still establishing a name for itself when Ferguson joined in 1975.

'It's hard to remember how radical NCE was in those days. We were the renegades, ' he says.

His favourite story concerned cuts in government infrastructure spending at a time when it was boasting of increases. The front cover showed a caricature of then prime minister Margaret Thatcher as the multi armed Hindu goddess Kali wielding axes labelled water, roads, schools, hospitals and government building - all sectors which looked to be hit by cuts in Local Authority grants.

'This was considered sacrilege in those days and the then chairman of contractor Wimpey ordered his staff never to speak to us again.' Ferguson soon moved up to editor and then editor-in-chief of the magazine, steering it into the early 1990s. His most exciting times were spent chasing disaster stories - 'NCE was, and still is, fi rst at the scene of disasters, ' he says.

After 16 years with the magazine, which was then published by Thomas Telford, Ferguson moved on to manage the arm of the company which dealt with publishing books and organising conferences.

The job then expanded to make him ICE commercial services director, where he was tasked with changing One Great George Street into a leading London meetings and conference venue.

'Before 1991, the place projected a rather fuddy duddy image. It's much more vibrant now, attracting around 100,000 visitors a year.' But the changes are not simply aesthetic, he adds.

They refl t the modernisation of the Institution and its development of a focused business plan.

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