The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 87 (2009) > Issues > Issue 1 > President's address: Our value to society in a changing, competitive world
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President's address: Our value to society in a changing, competitive world

I am privileged and honoured to be the 89th President of the Institution of Structural Engineers. I am also very aware of the inherent responsibilities of the post. I am Chairman of Trustees, the Executive Board and Council, and expected to provide leadership to a diverse membership of 23 600 structural engineers in 105 countries, a varied regional and branch infrastructure of enthusiastic volunteers, and 50 staff at headquarters.

Being the start of our second century, 2009 is a very special year in the Institution's development. The excitement and celebration of the Centennial Year are behind us; we now have to begin the serious task of ensuring that our Institution increases its relevance, and value, to society and all its members in an increasingly competitive and turbulent world. It is also the year in which we have a new Chief Executive, Martin Powell, following the retirement of Dr Keith Eaton after 9 years' distinguished service. So I feel, in equal measure, humbled and excited by the year ahead. Table 1 summarises the professional journey I have travelled to become President.

How do we take the best of our current strengths and hone them for a better future? There are two valuable signposts. In 2006, when I was Chairman of the Communications Strategy Committee (CSC), we commissioned our first Members' Survey1. The response was most encouraging, both in the number of respondents and the general endorsement of our direction. Table 2 captures the key outcomes of this survey. Of course, there are opportunities for significant improvement.

Last year, Sarah Buck, as part of her excellent work as Centennial President, led a Strategic Review2 that responded directly to this survey. Some of the priorities are captured in Table 3.

Graham Owens, MSc, PhD, CEng, FREng, FIStructE, FRSA