Straight after retiring as chairman and chief executive of Wimpey this month, Joe Dwyer is heading efforts to bring about closer integration of incorporated engineers and technicians within the ICE membership.
Last week at ICE Council, Dwyer was appointed chairman of a working party charged with accelerating the integration of the Board of Incorporated & Engineering Technicians (BIET) with the Institution. Associate and Technician Members are unhappy at the progress made on this, two years after Council agreed to resolve the issue of their perceived lack of status.
ICE President Roger Sainsbury said last week that the initiative - which is vital if the Associate Membership grade is to be successfully promoted (see News) - had been 'jammed up' by the unfinished business of the Cawthra Commission. Dwyer's appointment 18 months ahead of his ICE presidential year signals a determination to get things moving.
Dwyer must juggle with the fact that BIET claims not to want Corporate status for its Members, even though it complains about their lack of influence over the ICE compared to Corporate Members. BIET has already drawn up a list of actions it would like to see implemented on its Members' behalf.
To keep the incorporated engineers and technicians happy, Dwyer will need all the lateral thinking skills he honed at the helm of Wimpey. While in charge, he transformed the company from a struggling contracting, materials and housing firm into a highly profitable house builder through his asset swap with Tarmac in 1995.
A quiet, unassuming man who has had limited involvement in the ICE's internal politics, Dwyer is seen as the ideal candidate to break the impasse. He says: 'I will bring an open mind and positively no baggage. I wasn't involved in the history of BIET joining the Institution and I see that as an advantage.'
Dwyer claims not to have preconceptions as to how it will be done. He says: 'We have to wait and see. I suspect there is a lot of frustration and desire to sort this issue out and with good sense there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to reach agreement.'
A former President of the Chartered Institute of Building, Dwyer's new involvement gives him a opportunity to return to civil engineering.
He started as a junior engineer with George Wimpey in Liverpool in 1955, studying part time three nights a week for five years. Looking back on a successful career, he cites the refitting of the 19th century Cammel Laird Shipyards in Birkenhead, amid escalating industrial unrest in the mid 1970s, as a highlight.
Another was his stint as chairman of the British arm of Channel Tunnel builder TransManche Link. Dwyer and Eurotunnel's then chairman Sir Alastair Morton reputedly had a series of spats, but Dwyer graciously says: 'He has a bristling personality but it's a big myth that Alastair and I don't get on. I've got enormous admiration for him. John Prescott's decision to appoint him (as Rail Regulator) is first class.'