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Rising to the challenges

Viewpoint - RedR-IHE is moving ahead following the departure of chief executive Bobby Lambert.

Bobby Lambert's recent decision to step down as chief executive of RedR-IHE was a major milestone in the organisation's life. His passion, experience and enthusiasm for humanitarianism will be missed along with his knowledge gained after 14 years with the organisation.

Throughout this period he was totally committed to serving the organisation and to helping RedR-IHE move forward to meet the growing and changing challenges of the modern humanitarian relief sector.

It was after all, his vision that prompted the merger with the International Health Exchange - at a stroke aligning support for engineering and health care disaster relief professionals. It was his vision that prompted RedR-IHE to establish vital incountry training programmes in post-tsunami Sri-Lanka, post earthquake Pakistan, post conflict Afghanistan and in Sudan, one the most troubled and challenged parts of the world.

Under his leadership, the organisation grew and was able to offer more training, more support and more life-saving programmes than ever before. And under his leadership it changed, finding itself engaged in activities that, when formed 26 years ago, few could have predicted.

But RedR-IHE now faces some tough choices. The last 18 months have seen a major expansion of activities due to events such as the Tsunami and south Asian earthquake, and due to changes in the structure of aid grant funding.

It is clear that the pace of change has created its own challenges, not least of which is the unpredictable nature of funding for humanitarian relief work.

As a result, the organisation is now going through a period of consolidation and regrouping.

In an environment of overwhelming need, RedR-IHE must ensure it has the right skills to meet its strategic objectives today and in the future.

While it is always a blow to lose someone of Bobby's quality and standing, it is clear that the organisation is well placed to meet the challenges that lie ahead. The current leadership team, led by interim chief executive Neil Casey, has the experience, passion and direction to take the organisation forward.

There will be difficult times ahead, but it is clear that the organisation is already benefiting from a new clarity that change brings.

Over the next three months, the board of trustees will work closely with this team to find a suitable replacement chief executive. In the meantime Neil's team will be working hard to stabilise the organisation and begin the process of getting RedR-IHE into shape to meet the future.

There is much to do. As well as providing on-going recruitment, consultancy and training activities in the UK, and worldwide, RedR-IHE has just signed a contract to deliver field security training internationally.

RedR-IHE relies heavily on support from the across the engineering profession. There is a pressing need to work harder to engage with this community. A key part of the current process will be to ensure that engineering professionals know the impact RedR-IHE makes and how they personally can help to make a difference.

Helen Caulfield is chair of RedR-IHE

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