By Professor Charles Egbu FCIOB, CIOB President 2019-2020

This year’s Members’ Forum was held in the historic city of Edinburgh. As many of you know, the CIOB’s Members’ Forum is an annual event, bringing together leading construction professionals from across the globe, along with CIOB Trustees, staff and delegates, to talk about the industry’s major issues and the future direction of the Institute.

The programme was packed, as usual, with a number of activities for our attendees to take part in, including site visits, workshops, strategy development meetings and, this year, a special performance of On Edge, a play examining the impact of modern slavery.

Members’ Forum started on the Sunday with what is now becoming a traditional icebreaker, enabling delegates from around the globe to get to know each other. This was followed by an evening reception, where a warm welcome was given by Scottish CIOB members, led by Asim Afzal, Chair of the Glasgow Hub, and Anne Okafor, Chair of the Edinburgh Novus Group. A special welcome was given to the Global Student Challenge (GSC) Teams attending from China, Indonesia, Scotland, Canada, Australia, and the USA, as the final of the competition was again held alongside the Forum.

All the meetings took place at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton, in the centre of the city and within walking distance of all our events. Overall 60 members attended from across the globe, including 31% who were attending Members’ Forum for the first time. An information pack was provided to all attendees ahead of time, allowing them to plan their visit and make the most of their time.

Monday commenced with the Benevolent Fund AGM and Institute AGM, where I was honoured to be handed the reigns of the CIOB Presidency by Chris Soffe. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Chris for his fantastic work during his year as CIOB President and for opening the Members’ Forum – you can take a look at his Welcome blog here.

A workshop on quality was then held, where the Institute’s Quality Commission – originally formed at the 2017 Members’ Forum and chaired by Past President Paul Nash – presented the outputs from its work with an implementation plan circulated to delegates in a few weeks, including the training course delivered through the CIOB Academy, which delegates received a shortened version of in the afternoon session. Delegates then enjoyed a free evening, many taking in the cultural sites of Edinburgh and some attending the Edinburgh Novus ‘Hub in a Pub’ event.

The actual Members’ Forum meeting, held on Tuesday, is the core of the week, and is the main reason for bringing together all of our delegates from across the globe, allowing a dialogue between Members’ Forum delegates, the Board of Trustees and the CIOB Executive Team. It is a closed meeting which focussed on sharing the Corporate Plan 2020 – 2023 with a workshop on how the delegates can support the plan back in their regions. Our regional representatives also shared their activities, and achievements, while inputting into the future direction of the organisation.

That evening, delegates took in a hard-hitting play on modern slavery, performed by Justice in Motion, titled On Edge. This play used a combination of parkour and theatre to deliver this very important message. After the performance a panel session took place, sharing experiences of modern slavery from around the globe.

The Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, where it was decided that Members’ Forum 2020 would go to Sydney, Australia – our first Members’ Forum in Oceania, where we have many members. Running in tandem with this was a successful meeting of the regional and global Hub representatives, where ideas, successes and best practice where shared. I understand from colleagues in that meeting that it was a very positive and useful get together.

On Wednesday afternoon, Martin Perry and John Wallace from Nuveen Global gave a presentation on the impressive Edinburgh St James project. Following this, Asim Afzal, Senior Project Manager, and several colleagues from the contractor Laing O’Rourke, showed delegates round the site.

Later that evening, a reception was held at the famous Edinburgh Castle, with several Members of the Scottish Parliament in attendance, including Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, and Monica Lennon MSP, Scottish Labour Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport and Chair of the Cross-Party Group on Construction. You can read more about this in Kevin Stewart’s blog on “Investing in Scottish infrastructure”.

On the final day, we held a debate on the important topic of Mental Health and Wellbeing. We heard from several speakers, sharing their poignant, personal experiences in this area. The debate was live streamed, the first time this has happened at Members’ Forum. I am making mental health the focus of my presidency and I will be working with the CIOB team to ensure members are able to access resources to help them in this area.

Members’ Forum concluded with the traditional President’s Inaugural Dinner, which was held at the beautiful Signet Library, one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian buildings. We announced and celebrated the winners of the Global Student Challenge – many congratulations to Kanigara Banu from Universitas Indonesia for coming first, and to all the teams that took part. You can find out more about the GSC finalists here.

I look forward to my Presidency and working with members to move forward the important work that Members Forum generates.