Priorities, practicalities and politics | Caroline Gumble

24 September 2019 | By Caroline Gumble

Resourcing challenges, Brexit uncertainty, new payment practices and VAT changes – it’s a busy time for the industry and the institute, writes Caroline Gumble.

The last two months as CIOB CEO have flown by. As you may have read in my first CIOB blog, I can see that this is an organisation with real purpose that affects and will continue to affect the lives of every person who lives and works within a built environment.

It’s been a planned whirlwind in the last few weeks. I made it a priority to understand our membership, what they require from us and the priorities for the sector during the busiest time in the UK’s recent political history. Getting up to speed on industry matters while the political sands shift has made things interesting.

“I want to lead an institute that can help members navigate their projects and businesses through somewhat uncertain waters.”

Caroline Gumble

However, some clear priorities are emerging. I intend to act on them and ensure that the CIOB can deliver practical support, the right education standards and training, and up-to-date guidance and information. I want to lead an institute that can help members navigate their projects and businesses through somewhat uncertain waters.

In looking at the environment for construction businesses, particularly SMEs, I have heard from a number of members that the constant responsibility to be aware of where your business is, where it needs to be and what you need to do to get there is trickier now than ever.

Managing an SME requires a combination of leadership and being a team player – you have to know finance, HR, health and safety, marketing and so on. This is in addition to your particular area of professional expertise.

Not unique to construction, true, but perhaps more acutely felt in our industry than most, as site work and office work are quite the contrast. Mike Smith, MD of Corniche Construction, and CIOB president-elect Mark Beard, plus his team from Beard, have hosted company visits to help me understand the sector from their perspective.

Also, Brexit is undoubtedly causing uncertainty, as Chris Soffe, CEO of Gleeds Americas and CIOB immediate past president, said earlier this year in CM.

The institute believes the best course of action for businesses is to focus on the practical challenges: better recruiting into the industry; paying attention to due diligence; risks across the supply chain; keeping up-to-date on government advice and changes to legislation. Not to mention keeping on top of payment practices requirements and proposed changes to VAT rules.

I thank all members and stakeholders I have engaged with so far for their support and insight. I do not underestimate the importance of the support network CIOB membership facilitates.

There’s a lot to do and this is just the start. Watch this space.

Caroline Gumble is CEO of the CIOB


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