Making champions out of members

10th June 2013


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IEMA's new CEO Tim Balcon sets out his agenda for the rest of 2013 and makes member engagement a high priority

“I’m here to make a difference; I will measure that by the legacy I will one day leave, but for now I want to get all members really engaged,” declares Tim Balcon, as his tenure as chief executive at IEMA begins. Following his appointment in April, Balcon has quickly identified creating enhanced opportunities for member engagement as one of his two immediate priorities for IEMA.

“The remainder of this year will centre on reaching a heightened level of engagement with our members,” he says. “I know this will ensure that IEMA has a clear future direction and that members are on board. I want us to pass everything we do through a ‘member lens’, talking to as many as possible and seeking their views.”

In a rallying call to all members who wish to air their views on IEMA’s role in promoting the profession, Balcon says: “This is not a time to be quiet!”

A task of equal priority is to achieve a cohesive “clarity of voice” that correctly represents both IEMA and the profession.

“From what I’ve experienced, environment professionals often feel misrepresented as there is a worrying misunderstanding in business about what our members can offer. IEMA must find a way of translating members’ passion and loud voices into something that is meaningful to both the government and business, so they sit up and take notice of this profession’s contributions”, he explains. “Having that complete clarity about the environment profession, the individual professionals and IEMA’s thought leadership can only aid that mission.”

To make that goal achievable Balcon’s longer-term undertaking – once that member engagement and a unified voice is embedded – is to develop IEMA’s vision for 2020 and an organisational ambition statement that places members at its heart.

Fresh from his most recent role as chief executive at Energy and Utility Skills, where he transformed the sector skills council from an almost bankrupt start-up into an influential membership body with a £7 million annual membership turnover, Balcon says he is “delighted” to have joined the leading professional body for the environment.

“Over the years, I have been increasingly aware of the importance of environmental roles. So, to take that leap to IEMA was not that far from where I was, but I have realised that I have a lot to learn. And who better to learn from than IEMA members?”

Balcon talks with an optimism and confidence that reflects his reputation as an inspiring leader – while CEO at Energy and Utility Skills, the company was nationally recognised for its quality of leadership. Balcon’s CV is dominated by organisations specialising in vocational development, underlying his dedication to promoting professional skills.

Parallel to this, his exposure to the environment agenda derives from a similarly prominent perspective: in 2009, he established and chaired a cross-government, cross-sector green economy forum group. He explains: “I could see – just from the emerging renewable energy industry alone – how the environment would change everything so I championed the government response to the green economy.

“Now, as CEO at IEMA, I have the foundation needed to take that championing to the next level and do what needs doing – convince the government that they must recognise the profession. It is unmistakably fundamental to developing the economy,” he argues.

Having been in the CEO’s seat for two months, Balcon concludes that his initial impressions of IEMA – its “impressive purpose”, remarkable breadth of membership and the ambitious work being carried out – have not been diminished by experience. “We do some fantastic stuff here and it is up to me to get that message out. But, first and foremost, I want to concentrate on our members,” he says.

“To me, what is fascinating about the Institute is the breadth of skills and expertise in the membership. It is phenomenal to have all of that in one place. Here is where the environmental leaders are, and I fully intend to see them recognised as champions.”

Balcon’s core message for the future is reassuringly clear: members should soon expect to feel a real ownership, empowerment and clarity about where IEMA is going: “What members will see is a more engaging and more dynamic organisation. I want our members to feel a buzz about being a part of what IEMA is about and is achieving,” he says.

“There is no doubt that getting this right will result in our members genuinely being recognised as a valued and much sought-after part of the economy.”

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