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International membership efforts must focus on value says director

NEW DIRECTOR of the international division John Beck has started with a rallying call for new energy in the ICE's overseas affairs.

'The ICE has much to offer, ' said Beck. 'But we are in competition with the institutions of many other countries. We have to regenerate momentum.'

Beck called for the ICE to broaden its skills base in response to the changing international scene.

'This institution has a lot of people who eat, drink and think engineering. And they are very good at it, ' he stated. 'But in the wide world you need diplomats and communicators as well.'

Appointing Keith Brogan as new communications director is a positive move towards broadening the institution's reach and influence, Beck said.

Beck joins the ICE after a career in local government, latterly as director of environmental services with Sedgemoor District Council. He replaces John Whitwell, who retired at the end of 2000 after 13 years of dedicated service.

Beck has clocked up international experience during six years' membership - and as current chairman - of the international affairs committee of the Local Government Technical Advisors Group. He also believes his passion for law - he is studying for a postgraduate diploma at the College of Law - will help him cut through the bureaucracy of international politics to the hard facts.

Beck's key challenge will be in demonstrating and emphasising the value of the Institution's international division to decision makers and the membership at large, he says. But he is not expecting it to be easy.

'The ICE in the UK provides an umbilical cord, supporting, protecting, and advising, ' he explained. 'This is how it should be worldwide.'

He said that the Institution must focus on maintaining its reputation as a 'professional gold standard' internationally.

However, he conceded there was a major hurdle to overcome in making ICE membership affordable to overseas members.

The international division is working hard in a number of countries worldwide and, through the local associations, has a particular focus on central and eastern Europe.

Strong links have already been forged with Poland, Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and the division is continuing to investigate ways of breaking into the Baltic states, Balkan states, Romania and the Ukraine.

On a more global level, Beck is keen to get involved with the ICE's continuing development of a worldwide internet based knowledge network, in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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