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'Frustrated' Casebourne quits ICE

Institution News

INSTITUTION OF Civil Engineers chief executive Mike Casebourne is to quit Great George Street after becoming increasingly 'frustrated' with his role since he joined from rail contractor GTRM two and a half years ago.

The announcement followed a meeting of the ICE's executive board chaired by senior vice president Mark Whitby - now the new president - and including then president Sir Joseph Dwyer, succeeding vice presidents Adrian Long and Doug Oakervee and other vice presidents.

However when the ICE Council began a private discussion over his sudden departure, several members questioned whether the executive board had the power to agree Casebourne's departure without reference or explanation to Council.

Deputy chief executive and secretary Amar Bhogal will take over day to day running of ICE operations while a replacement for Casebourne is found.

Casebourne later announced that he was to join Railtrack as director of maintenance delivery, leaving the ICE on 19 November (see box).

Whitby and the ICE executive committee are likely to review the post before a replacement is found. It is expected that the current chief executive role will be replaced with a more conventional director general position.

Speaking to NCEI, Whitby said: 'Mike has done a fantastic amount of good for the Institution but the way it was going was not for the long term good of the Institution as a whole.

He added: 'He should not be tarred as a result of this. Mike is an enormously able personality but the culture of institutions and his culture are difficult ones to marry together. ' An official statement insisted that the ICE had been satisfied with Casebourne's work to 'progress the Institution on many fronts' since joining in 1999.

But it added that Casebourne had 'grown increasingly frustrated at the difficulty of making the transition from the private sector into the very different environment of a registered charity.'

Casebourne received no compensation payment for leaving the circa ú100,000 a year post, the statement said, adding that the decision to part company was mutually agreed.

'This gives the Institution the opportunity to look again at the role of the chief executive and how it interacts with the executive board and the Council. It may be that the current role is too big for one person.'

Casebourne was uncharacteristically tight-lipped about the dramatic announcement.

He said that he was very disappointed to be leaving but 'very excited about what I am about to do.'

He also paid tribute to staff at the ICE: 'There are a number of staff at the Institution working very hard for the members. I believe that we achieved an awful lot together.'

Over the last three years, Casebourne has tackled and driven through a number of highly controversial reforms at the ICE.

Most significant were his efforts to win Council approval for rule changes allowing Incorporated Engineers to become full Members of the ICE.

It is no secret that his style and desire to get things done have ruffled more than a few feathers during this work. He has also survived a number of very personal attacks inside and outside the Council room.

Casebourne joined the ICE in March 1999 from rail maintenance contractor GTRM where he was managing director. This followed an 18 month long search to replace previous director general and secretary Roger Dobson, who twice postponed his retirement.

Casebourne's appointment as a chief executive rather than director general resulted from then-president Sir Alan Cockshaw's desire to introduce more modern and private sector-led thinking to the ICE.

But Casebourne's management style, developed over years as a contractor, is known to have caused tensions at the ICE, particularly as he restructured the organisation and replaced several directors.

As a result, Whitby's new appointment panel is expected to review the precise skills required to run the Great George Street operation for the ICE.

Casebourne's last duty will be to shepherd the ICE through its annual Engineering Council audit.

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