MIKE CASEBOURNE is to be the new Director General & Secretary of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Council's confirmation of the appointment on Tuesday afternoon ended a year of uncertainty following the current DG&S Roger Dobson's announcement last September that he planned to retire on his 62nd birthday in July this year.
Casebourne has been prised away from his position as managing director of contractor GT Railway Maintenance and plans to take over at Great George Street some time between January and April, as soon as a successor is in place at GTRM.
He has yet develop any detailed plans for his new position, but he is known to be a strong advocate of devolving much more power to the regional associations.
A lifelong contractor, 52 year old Casebourne left Costain for Cementation, where he was made a regional director in 1984, before moving to Wimpey Engineering & Construction UK as managing director in 1990. Immediately after the housing/ contracting asset swap between Tarmac and Wimpey in April 1996, Casebourne was put in charge of the pounds180M turnover GTRM company jointly purchased from British Rail by GEC Alsthom and Tarmac. He was chairman of the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors in 1995-96.
Recruitment of a DG&S who would satisfy the exacting demands of ICE's inner circle of the President and vice presidents has proved time consuming and frustrating. President Sir Alan Cockshaw was determined to find a high profile person with the ability to drive the Institution forward and raise the public perception of civil engineering. Twice the selection panel was on the point of recommending candidates to Council and twice it failed to close the negotiation. The first candidate was considered, at the last moment, to be unsuitable. The second withdrew unexpectedly as a final offer was being made (NCE 21 May).
It was then decided to dump the original recruitment consultant and try another firm. GKRS was given the task and the job was re-advertised with a pounds100,000-plus package in June.
But in the President's view: 'Anyone who applied and needed a job would be the wrong person.' All those who were in serious consideration during the latest trawl were people to whom direct approaches had been made.
Casebourne was contacted seven weeks ago. But he needed some persuasion to leave a job in contracting which he described as a 'Frontline fighting - er no, better to say 'leading' - general'.
Cockshaw specifically wanted someone with considerable industrial experience, who would at the same time 'respect the history of ICE and make it modern and influential'.
Other key appointments and further reorganisation of the ICE, which has been in limbo pending the appointment of a new DG&S, will now follow - but not before Casebourne has carefully listened to what staff at Great George Street and Heron Quay have to say about the Institution. He says he believes in evolution and will not be rushing around on the day he moves in making drastic alterations.
(see profile page 32).