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'Frustrated' Casebourne quits ICE


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

Casebourne has agreed to stay at the ICE during a transition period of up to six months until a successor is found.

The announcement followed a meeting last week of the ICE's executive board chaired by senior vice president Mark Whitby.

At the meeting, with board members including president Sir Joseph Dwyer, succeeding vice presidents Adrian Long and Doug Oakervee and other vice presidents, it was agreed that Casebourne would leave his job.

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

It is expected that Casebourne will move to a new job long before a successor is appointed.

He is expected to announce further details of his plans next week.

The ICE executive committee and new president Mark Whitby is now 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 NCE this week ahead of taking up his presidency, 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 released by ICE president Sir Joe Dwyer 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.'

Dwyer confirmed that Casebourne would not receive any compensation payment for leaving the circa £100,000 a year post adding that the decision to part company was mutually agreed.

Looking to the future he added: '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 and about his future.

He said that, he was very disappointed to be leaving but that he had a particular new interest that he was pursuing, adding: 'I am very excited about what I am about to do.'

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

His last Council meeting will be on Tuesday but the agenda does not include a debate about his departure. It is likely that the issue will be raised as a question to the president.

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

Most controversial 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 over controversial policy directions.

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 while a replacement was sought (NCE 17 September 1998).

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.

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