Unlocking potential: The benefits of joining the National IHE Council

01/03/2024
Ross Bullerwell

In 2022, I did something that I had been avoiding for far too long in the highways industry - I joined the IHE National Council. I’d been avoiding it out of fear of committing too much time to the organisation and disturbing my career path.

How wrong can you be? Well, it turns out, very wrong.

In my three decades in the sector, I have always been a huge believer in the IHE. This institute represents the ‘doers’, the decision-makers, the people who ultimately make a difference to UK roads. However, beyond attending dinners, courses, and events, I couldn’t say I actively got involved in furthering the organisation, leaving it to other dedicated individuals to push the fantastic work it does to support professional development in the industry. I’m sad to say that for a long time, I honestly didn’t know what the IHE National Council did.

I only really started to investigate more about the National Council because of reading the regular column in Highways magazine. What was its true purpose? How did the governance work? How did the Council support its members? How, could I get involved?

A few years ago, after doing more research I felt that it was the right time for me to manage my work/life balance and potentially commit to doing more for the organisation that I’d trusted for so long.

I talked with Neil Levett FIHE and CEO Steve Spender as National Council representatives about getting more involved but said that I didn’t want to just be a tokenistic member of the Council or Exec Board. I wanted to know if I could make a difference.

The answer was a resounding yes and I was nominated to the National Council in 2022 to serve an initial two-year term. I was also voted in as a scrutineer for the Executive Board, something I hadn’t realised I would be eligible for.

Let me be clear at the outset, I was a novice at this. Despite my extensive experience in highways, at first I wasn’t too sure how being on the Council would work out for me but I can honestly say it’s been a decision well made.

I was welcomed with open arms by the other members of the Council, and I was guided through the protocols. Once I found my feet, I then started to throw myself into the role, taking part in the R&M committee and understanding my role as a scrutineer.

As they say, you only get out what you put in. In terms of the Council, it’s certainly no different. You don’t join the Council to coast or get a nice line in your CV (although I won’t deny it’s nice to see it there in black and white).

It’s about making a difference to the organisation and the members you represent. It does take some commitment of course but I don’t believe it’s onerous to the extent that it affects your highways career as I once first feared it would. It does mean you can help your fellow professionals achieve some of their career goals and gives a huge sense of satisfaction that you are helping drive the organisation forward.

I take my role on the Council seriously and I do it with pride, representing the industry I love. We all have a role to play in the highways industry to ensure it remains at the forefront of technical disciplines and the IHE are at the forefront of its professional development. This is not some elitist club solely for university graduates, this is an organisation for the doers in our industry from the front line to senior management.

While I remain on Council, I’ll ensure we don’t lose that focus, I don’t believe the IHE ever will. Do not be apprehensive about learning more about the National Council. Find out what we do and if you feel you can contribute, please put yourself forward in the nominations for Council positions.

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