Rumford Club debate 10 Dec 2015: “The recent Edge Commission Report on The Future of Professionalism”

The speakers were Benita Mehra – President of WES (Women in Engineering and Science) and Robin Nicholson (Senior Practice Partner, Cullinan Studio). The facilitator was Rod Bunn (BSRIA).

References/background: Summary sheet to download at

Robin was the convenor of the report, which was launched 6 months ago. He introduced the theme by explaining its background. The Edge Commission is a multi-disciplinary voluntary group and in a good position to make recommendations for change within the Institutions as they do have a major role to play in improving the built environment. The report has not been put onto a shelf and currently there is momentum with an international collaboration on ethics, for a start. We don’t often recognise the value of our Institutions, witness the value the Chinese put on RICS.

Benita suggested the real challenge is the shortage of younger people (particularly women) adopting STEM subjects and coming into the industry and she did not see that the Institutions were making enough of a difference in this regard. She also criticised the Institutions for not sharing knowledge freely enough.

There followed a debate on how to get better at attracting people into the industry.

The meeting was marked by the presentation to Noel Gibbard, probably the Club’s oldest member at 93, of a birthday cake presented by the Club’s newest members Joseph Wu and Sebastian Gray (pictured).

Noel spoke of how Haden, the company he had worked for nearly all his working life, used to invest in a large number of apprentices. This suggested a third way forward, which would involve employers taking a more active role in attracting talent, but others argued that this is problematic in today’s climate of rock bottom prices.

Next meeting: 14 January 2016: “What might the future look like in a world of advancing technology and finite resources?” Chris Jones and Cat Hirst.