In the executive chair with: Caroline Gumble, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Building

by | Aug 5, 2021

Best advice you’ve been given?

The only person you need to fear is yourself.

What project are you most excited by?

It’s not easy to pick one. I’m excited about our Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders programme, which is being rolled out over the coming months. This is the evolution of our Novus network for young professionals and focusses on what we can do to inspire the next generation and attract talented individuals into our industry and retain them. I’m also excited about the forthcoming launch of our app, CIOB Connect.

How do you approach long-term planning and strategy?

That’s an interesting question to reflect on because CIOB is at the start of the process to develop our next corporate plan. Our current three-year plan runs until 2023 and, although we know a focus on supporting the drive to net zero will be a big part of it, there are a lot of people to feed into the process to help shape how that and other themes will be part of the plan. I’m a strong advocate of collaboration. We’re developing something which will outline the vision and areas of focus for CIOB for years to come and we need to understand what our members think will be important for the industry.

As an Institute with a public interest remit, we have a wider role. Clearly focusing on the future of construction is necessary – driving quality up the construction agenda and delivering the right accreditations and training. But construction is incredibly influential in society and where construction can have a much more positive impact – such as being better on diversity and inclusion – I will factor that into our activities and make the case for construction’s role as a societal driver, not just an economic one.

Who’s your role model?

It’s hard to select just one, but I do admire Sir James Wates, Chairman of the Wates Group and a former CIOB President. He exhibits tremendous professionalism and humility and has recently written a blog for us in which he champions diversity and reminds us not to forget those living with a disability. Speaking out on an issue like that also demonstrates true leadership.

What digital tools or technology are you embracing?

I’ve been working remotely for most of the last 18 months so I’ve been using Teams and Zoom. The CIOB events team did very well last year to adapt to virtual events and make use of Hopin and GoToWebinar. Our Director of Membership told me that engagement with members increased by an impressive 154 per cent last year, compared to 2019, by utilising the full capacity of our online communications channels. In terms of the wider industry, it’s been interesting to hear talk from the BIM and digital experts about whether or not the post-Covid recovery period will serve to accelerate moves towards digitalisation in construction.

What trends are you noticing right now?

I’ve been pleased to see the shift to prioritise the green construction agenda. The push to net zero is a requirement, of course, but there’s also been a cultural shift – it feels as if there’s a strong desire in much of the industry to put this at the top of the agenda as a matter of principle. It’s certainly true for CIOB members. Activities to improve sustainability in construction are already driving much of what we do – this is not a short-term issue with a quick fix and we’re making a commitment that this will be a priority for us now and in years to come.

One of the recent pieces of work we’ve been involved in, through membership of the Construction Industry Council’s (CIC) Climate Change Panel, is development of a climate action plan for professional institutes in the built environment. CIOB is also part of the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Domestic Repair, Maintenance and Improvement Working Group, which has now published a second iteration of the National Retrofit Strategy – a 20-year blueprint for how the industry can work with government to retrofit existing homes.

Who’s impressing you in the industry?

I’m very lucky as I get to work with a lot of talented people. Over the last 18 months I keep reflecting on the fact I’ve been so impressed with the resilience and commitment seen across the whole of the construction industry. People have been called upon to deliver, in already demanding roles, in unprecedented circumstances. I have been so impressed by the extraordinary levels of professionalism and hard work seen since the pandemic began.

Best book or podcast?

I’ve just finished a novel called The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird.

What’s your passion when you’re not at work?

I love gardening and spending time in my garden in Suffolk.

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