Aruba To Austin Court

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VP takes off in Aruba
Alan Watts on the water in Aruba
Alan Watts asked me to write his Vice President's blog this month because he thought it unlikely he would be able to make our Board of Trustees meeting, which took place on Monday, 6 July. This is because he was travelling back from his annual pilgrimage to the sun, sea, surf and delights of the Caribbean. However, Alan rearranged his flights and, whilst looking somewhat travel weary, he still managed to get from Aruba to IET Birmingham: Austin Court to participate (with vigour) in the meeting (see photos).
Well, Alan may have made it back from Aruba but his request for me to write his blog still stands, which is no easy task when you consider the skilled (and entertaining) communications that Alan has written during his long tenure as a Trustee. Normal service will be resumed by him at our next meeting, but I am to pick up from him when his term as a Trustee is completed in October.

So, firstly, Austin Court. This was the first Board of Trustees meeting I have been to at IET's Birmingham headquarters (although I have been there on other occasions). A charming and beautifully refurbished building, which opens out onto two of the canals that provided a commercial lifeline for this industrial engine of Britain. If you haven't been here, meeting rooms are available to all IET members to use to conduct work in support of our profession. If you want to do so then bookings can be made via the IET Birmingham: Austin Court

Our Trustee meeting started with a review of our portfolio of current policy work. A great deal of this is driven by our Policy Committees and Technical Networks on topics like Education and Skills, Energy, Information Technology, Communications, Manufacturing and more. Policy topics being considered include systems architecture for our electricity network, how Public procurement can support UK innovation and manufacturing, and some work around the EU referendum and others. What was clear from this discussion is that the IET has some very good links across UK government departments and others in other parts of the world. It's for us all to focus our energy and expertise in helping to support better policy thinking and outcomes, at all levels and wherever we can.
We had a good and constructive conversation on Governance for the Future (G4F) which was discussed at our IET Members Annual Information Event held on 18 June in London. I had an opportunity to present on this topic and, if you are interested in doing so, then this link takes you to a video of the event and my presentation. We will be looking to members to vote for Governance for the Future in due course, so please keep your eyes open for this. The proposals need and deserve your vote at one or perhaps two Special General Meetings. 
You may be aware that we are nearing the end of the massive refurbishment of Savoy Place. We are into the last few months of work now and, as you can imagine, the team is working hard to get things finished in time for the planned opening in late October and the Presidential Address on 11 November. I have visited the site a number of times, as well as following the project with interest, and I am certain we will all enjoy the outstanding engineering home for our Institution. Let's send positive thoughts to those working on the project as they work relentlessly to complete! If you want a teaser of what the building is going to be like, then this link will show you a 'fly through'. Enjoy!
Another discussion point was Continuing Professional Development. It’s another very important topic for us all as we work in this ever-changing world. A good discussion was held and is clearly a priority for the IET.
Following our Trustee meeting, we all had an opportunity to network with local IET members, before participating in a Question & Answer session where we took questions on any topic from local IET members. The session was chaired by our next President, Naomi Climer, who takes up the reins in October, and the panel included myself, Nick Winser, Virginia Hodge and Simon Hart. It was a lively session lasting some 90 minutes or more with some most relevant questions raised, such as how we inspire a new generation of talent into our sector, how we support and enable more volunteering, how we meet the societal challenges for engineering in ethical ways, and more. An enjoyable session and a super opportunity to hear and respond directly to IET members. Many thanks to all of you who came along and participated with such passion and energy.
Finally, from Aruba to Austin Court to London… Having participated with energy in the meeting, Alan stayed until the very end of the post Q&A session, then trudged off to his hotel before travelling home to Northern Ireland on the first flight back in the morning. Or so we thought… Well no, not Alan. The next morning saw him take an early train trip to London for another IET event. Home will have to wait...

A blog post from IET Vice President Peter Bonfield. Peter is Chief Executive of the BRE Group.

Posted by Alan Watts on Jul 8, 2015 1:02 PM Europe/London

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