Member associations have their say at FIDIC conference

07 Sep 2019

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FIDIC’s members took centre stage in Mexico City to offer views on the organisation’s activities and strategic direction.

FIDIC’s member associations (MAs) took centre stage at the FIDIC conference in Mexico City, with their traditional start-of-conference directors and secretaries’ meeting and presidents’ meetings. Both of these gatherings, which took place on 7 September 2019, gave FIDIC the opportunity to update member associations on its work during the past year and for members and their presidents or chairs to give feedback to FIDIC and give their views on the organisation’s strategic direction.

Opening the directors and secretaries meeting (D&S) John Gamble from ACEC Canada paid tribute to Andrea Šehic, the previous chair of the FIDIC directors and secretaries’ advisory council, who has stood down from that role. Gamble said that the D&S grouping plays a crucial role within FIDIC and it was only right that the D&S advisory council should become a statutory part of the organisation. 

“The advisory council provides insight to the board on policy matters and industry trends, facilitates collaboration and shares information and offers advice to the board on how FIDIC can better support capacity building amongst MAs,” Gamble said. This ensures that the important voice of member associations is heard by the board and is able to influence it, he said.

The meeting was attended by a wide range of FIDIC members from countries around the world including Netherlands, Ireland, Slovenia, Spain, Poland, France, Uganda, Slovakia, India, Philippines, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, Indonesia, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Lebanon, Canada, Turkey, Botswana, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Zambia and Portugal.

FIDIC chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin spoke to the meeting about his first year in office as the head of FIDIC. Stressing that both he and FIDIC were on a journey, he outlined several positive developments that had taken place over the past 12 months, including a strengthening of the FIDIC staff in several key areas. More work was needed, but with the support of its members and the board, Ogunshakin said that he was confident that the further changes being planned would make FIDIC an even more effective organisation in the future.

Crucially, Ogunshakin said that FIDIC needed the active support of its MAs to become more effective and efficient. He made a plea for those at the meeting to get involved with FIDIC at every level, including playing an active role in the D&S advisory council. “Being an observer does not change things. Being a participant changes things. We need your involvement to ensure that FIDIC does what you want and what the industry needs,” Ogunshakin said.

FIDIC president Alain Bentéjac addressed the MA presidents’ meeting by highlighting the work of the organisation over the past 12 months. Describing it as “a year of change”, he said that FIDIC had taken a number of significant steps forward since the arrival of its new chief executive and was now much better placed to serve its members. Bentéjac, who steps down at the end of his two-year term as FIDIC president at the end of the Mexico City conference, also pinpointed the overhaul of FIDIC’s governance and its committee system as a key development which, although still ongoing, would make a significant difference to the organisation’s effectiveness going forward.

Feedback from MAs at both meetings mainly concentrated on FIDIC’s communications and getting the balance and blend right in a busy and crowded business space. The improvement in dialogue between FIDIC and its members was acknowledged and welcomed, both in terms of communication frequency and content. The feeling from some of those present was that FIDIC needed to ensure that it better targeted its services to reflect the differing capability and capacity of MAs. This, said both the FIDIC president and chief executive, was being addressed and was why it was important to see the best possible response to the recent members’ survey, which would remain open to gather more respondents.

Member association directors and secretaries and their presidents took full advantage of the opportunity to engage directly with FIDIC at their respective events on 7 September. Going forward, there will be more opportunities for discussion and dialogue for both groups to shape FIDIC’s direction, strategy and offering to members in the months and years ahead.

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