Final farewell from Andrew Carpenter
I write my final Newsletter introduction for CESW with mixed feelings in that I’m both very sorry to be leaving an organisation that I helped create in 2003 but happy I leave an organisation in a very strong position both in terms of membership and influence.
It was in 2003 that Tom Harper, Mark Giltsoff, Trish Johnson and I worked together as a ‘gang of four’ to create Constructing Excellence South West. The launch took place at Somerset County Cricket Ground and so it’s fitting my farewell performance will take place at the same venue. My involvement in the early years was restricted to the organisation of the annual awards until in 2013 I was asked to become Chief Executive. At that time we had come out of a severe recession and in effect there was no regional body only three clubs in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Plymouth all of whom had managed to weather the storm of the recession.
My first job was to create a structure that would provide a sustainable organisation going forward. To do this I asked key figures from across the South West supply chain if they thought we needed CESW, if I was the man to lead it, whether they would sit on the board and also pay for the privilege! I’m delighted to say we got a very good list of volunteers, and the rest is history, so they say! Of that original board I would like to pay tribute to our inaugural chair and vice chair, Rob Knight and David Renwick, and the only board member still standing Andrew Goodenough for their vision, support and dedication. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude as it is upon their foundation, we see the successful organisation today that is CESW.
The next job was to build on the aforementioned three clubs by breathing new life into Cornwall, Devon & Exeter, Dorset and Swindon & Wiltshire Clubs and create new ones in Bath and Somerset. Plymouth and Exeter have merged to form the Devon Club, but Dorset still stands alone. I thank all the club chairs over the years for their huge contribution in ensuring the two-way communication with the construction industry coalface and the ability to provide two-way communication channel for best practice.
It was important that CESW was not a ‘talking shop’ and we were able provided best practice collateral that could be used by the industry at large to improve the performance of the UK construction industry which was of course our elevator pitch whenever we were asked ‘what does CE do?’ To do this we set up a series of working Theme Groups, initially nine subsequently reduced to six and now further reduced to four. They have worked tirelessly over the years to identify gaps in knowledge and then bring together experts to fill those gaps and provide best practice documents that may be used throughout the sector. I am in awe of the knowledge and time Theme Group members have been prepared to share with CESW to provide this excellent collateral. I would like to place on record my personal thanks to Martyn Jones who got the ball rolling in 2014 with our first documents on procurement best practice and who has been the driving force behind their success ever since.
The origins of Rethinking Construction have always concentrated on making our sector a better place to work and with this in mind we set up our own G4C movement for those of thirty-five and under i.e., our future leaders. Over the years we have had a succession of chairs, all committed to the cause, and this is very much the case now with Lizzy Painter building on the success of Lisa Denby in providing a vibrant group of young professionals all committed to the principles of collaborative working. The recent highlight has been a series of podcasts arranged by the group to promote construction as a career. In addition, for three years, thanks to the generosity of Southern Construction Framework we ran a very successful Adopt a School campaign to improve the image of construction and promote it as a career of choice.
Over my nine years as Chief Executive we have organised several very successful conferences, summits, workshops, webinars, podcasts and of course Awards ceremonies all dedicated to showcasing best practice and providing networking opportunities for like-minded forward-thinking people all of whom who share our best practice principles and passion for change. I will miss my involvement with CESW but will maintain my interest from afar as a member of the Constructing Excellence Regional Partnership in my capacity as Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence Midlands.
I conclude this introduction by wishing Dan Macey and the current board all the very best in taking CESW onwards and upwards. It’s time for my baby to fly the nest and I know I leave the organization in excellent hands. I look forward to seeing it mature and blossom as its membership and influence continues to grow. As I’ve said for nineteen years the only constant in life is change and now that change includes my departure.
I thank all members, both old and current, for their support, dedication and sense of humour. We’ve built CESW on trust and goodwill and those values will stand the organization in good stead going forward into an even brighter future.