We are delighted to welcome the new SCSI President Des O’Broin.
Des is Director at Linesight and a Fellow of the Society. He brings more than 30 years’ experience to the role, first as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, and more recently, as a Chartered Project Manager. He has a particular focus on education and professional development within the industry, having spent ten years as the QS APC Chair, in addition to three years as the Society’s Chair of the Education Committee.
Des has worked on a range of landmark projects throughout Ireland, the UK, Europe and the Caribbean, including the National Conference Centre (CCD), Vertium, LXV, Spencer Dock, Spencer Place, Montevetro, Central Park, The Guinness Storehouse and the Marriott Hotel in Haiti.
Read his inaugural speech below, in which he outlines his key deliverables – Value, Vision and Leadership. Click here for information on appointed chairs and board. We wish Des every success in the year ahead.
It is such a genuine privilege to address you this evening as the SCSI President for the year ahead and I would like to thank you, the members of the Society for electing me as your President.
My first duty, on your behalf, is to thank our outgoing President, Colin Bray for his boundless energy and his commitment to the Society and his attention to the members’ needs. Colin has been a superb President, as I am sure you will agree, highlighting the role that Geomatics and geospatial data and information already plays across all areas of surveying. He has helped open minds to the importance for members to adapt and to become early adopters to the ongoing advances in technology – all of which of course forms part of our ethos of Continuing Professional Development. Colin brought the Survey, Innovation and Technology Roadshow around the regions in 2017 and more recently introduced the very successful PropTech & Smart Construction Conference at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
Since first joining the Board in 2016, I’ve seen the impact that the role of President can make on the Society and society at large in the more general sense.
The work of the Past President’s during that time – Andrew Nugent, Claire Solon and Colin Bray – is both impressive and daunting at the same time. Johanna Gill joined the Board in 2017 and we will shortly welcome a new appointment to the Board as Claire Solon steps down. I am absolutely sure that the new members contribution to the Board of SCSI will continue that tradition of excellence and dedicated service in the best interests of the membership.
Chartership was a very important step in my own career path. I have been a Chartered Surveyor for just over 30 years initially as a Quantity Surveyor and more recently as a Project Management Surveyor. I am a director of Linesight in Dublin where I have spent most of those 30 years in the company of 3 former Presidents of the Society. As President I’ll be tapping into that experience and the key traits of a good Quantity Surveyor mixed with some Project Management experience – clear communications, organisational skills combined with a very much team oriented style of working and decision making.
In this vein, I’d like to quickly set out my priorities for the year with three words – Vision, Leadership, Value.
As President, I will work with the Board, Council, Committees, the executive and staff here at 38 Merrion Square and most importantly with you, the membership to state a clear vision on the range of challenges facing the sector and the profession – from the housing shortage and infrastructure deficit through to education.
We need to continue with and update the Strategic Plan based on a clear business case and a long term plan to develop the Society for the members. Indeed it is no different when addressing these major issues for the country. The current Government set out its plan for strategic development in its Project Ireland 2040. We may have diverse views on elements of that plan but I think we all know that nothing gets built without a plan and particularly longer term large scale infrastructure and housing development plans which are in the national interest. While the IMD put Ireland as 6th for Economic Performance in their 2017 world competitiveness rankings but well down the rankings for Infrastructure and that needs to be addressed along with housing.
The legendary New York Mayor LeGuardia, famous for his one liner quotes once said “There is no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets”. Well there is no particular Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, Labour, Green Party or Independents way to build a house but we all know it just needs to be done. I think NIKE the sports manufacturer have said something in a similar vein.
It is very likely that during my Presidency, we’ll have a General Election. SCSI as an organisation must remain politically neutral but not policy neutral. We must continue to inform the discussion and help shape sustainable policy in addressing the housing shortage and the infrastructure deficit. This must be based on impartial analysis of the facts and not based on sentiment, sound bytes or just lending support to populist political agendas.
As SCSI, we need to show our leadership in the delivery of our vision and maintain our position as the organisation for all things land, property and construction related in Ireland. It’s my goal to push a clear message to politicians on what is in the public interest to as quickly as possible address our housing shortage and to highlight ways to try and remove the inherent blockages within the current system. In addition to the shortage of suitable land at reasonable cost there are the huge uncertainties in our planning system around density, height and a failure to introduce clear unambiguous guidelines to remove some of the subjectivity and of course what can probably be only be described as NIMBYISM.
Whatever your views on Apple jumping from 11th position to become Ireland’s largest firm as announced in today’s papers, it is a massive blow to the country to hear that Apple also today announced that despite its best efforts, delays in the planning approval process that it is not proceeding with its plans for their data centre in Athenry, Co. Galway.
Those of you who know me will be aware of my keen interest over the years in education. We are all too aware of the skills shortages throughout the industry. Looking to the development of our own profession we need to continue to attract new members through the existing channels. Our Director of Education, James Lonergan has successfully identified new opportunities for partnerships with distance learning providers and I firmly believe we need to further exploit these new opportunities particularly for those outside easy travel distance from Dublin and the other regional colleges. The further development of conversion courses for other professionals is another priority. We will be looking to provide shorter routes to membership for those for instance already engaged on the property side with suitable Business or Accountancy degrees. On the Project Management Surveying side we will similarly be looking at conversion courses for those with suitable Engineering or Architectural training to join the membership. This is required to address the obvious skill shortages and better meet our members’ needs across the 12 professional groups which make up SCSI.
We will provide better support to our members needs through CPD and continuous learning including the adoption of new technologies and innovative work practices. The Surveying profession needs to do this if we are to remain relevant.
That will include supporting our Director General, Áine Myler and the staff here at 38 Merrion Square with investment in technology to deliver better, more efficient and user friendly CPD and seminars on-line to as many members as possible throughout the country.
Lastly, as a Quantity Surveyor, my focus is on the Society demonstrating and delivering Value through our collective Vision and showing Leadership in supporting whatever the colour of the Government of the day is with fact based analysis to help sustainably deliver on major long term investment programmes.
It’s not always how much a government spends on housing and infrastructure, it is how they achieve best value for that spend and deliver on their promises particularly when it comes to delivering affordable housing to meet the very immediate needs of its citizens.
Equally important for members, is for SCSI to continue to articulate effectively to the public the value SCSI members can and do create and manage assets in the built environment whether they are in the land, construction or property sectors.
I have no doubt this will be a testing year for our businesses and profession – with GDPR only weeks away and Brexit under a year away. My Presidency will see interesting times but I know that in the membership and the staff here at 38 Merrion Square we have a great team who will help to drive that vision, leadership and value in all the work that the SCSI needs to do in the coming year.
Thank you for this opportunity