Spotlight on the new chair of the board

6th September 2013

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Dr Diana Montgomery discusses her career and the bright future she sees ahead for the environment profession and IEMA

“It’s a very exciting time, especially as the Vision 2020 consultation is in its closing stages and the members seem to be really on board with what we’re trying to achieve,” says Dr Diana Montgomery, the new chair of the IEMA board.

The board guides the Institute’s strategy and direction, ensuring that, in Montgomery’s words: “Risks are managed, progress is monitored and, most importantly of all, it ensures we deliver an organisation that serves the members and meets their expectations.”

The board this month also welcomes three new non-executive directors. Montgomery believes that their appointments will prove extremely timely, coming at a time when the Institute is in the process of refining its focus and stimulating a course of member engagement.

“From what I’ve been told by Tim Balcon [IEMA’s CEO], the members who have contributed to the Vision 2020 workshops absolutely support that the idea that the Institute should be about skills, development and the promotion of the profession,” she says.

“I think we can safely say that we have some definite consensus that cuts right across IEMA’s structure. That’s not only very reassuring, but sets us up for a very exciting future.”

In voicing her dedication to skills and the environment profession, Montgomery echoes Balcon’s ambition for IEMA, which is to see increased uptake of environmental skills and to ensure that the environment profession becomes better recognised and understood.

“Essentially, we need to have as many skilled and qualified people out there as possible, all making a difference,” she explains. “Collectively, we have an opportunity to become the first generation of practitioners that makes environment a mainstream profession.

“I’m really excited at what lies down the track, but that will not happen if we fail to work together and don’t combine IEMA’s energy with the membership’s passion. Environmentalists are unusual in that we are probably much more passionate about our careers than is typical, so it seems only natural that we would want to use that to our advantage.”

Montgomery is chief executive at the Construction Products Association (CPA), having previously been deputy CEO and director of commercial affairs at the Chemical Industries Association and head of environment at both Centrica and the AA. She has been involved with IEMA, either as a member or board representative, for more than 20 years.

She explains that her pre-CPA experience was “very mixed”, and was perhaps representative of the breadth and reach of the environment profession.

“I have definitely benefited from being able to move around the profession,” she says. “After completing my PhD and lecturing at Imperial College London, I worked for a number of large corporations, ranging from a fast-moving consumer goods company, where I had pan-European responsibilities, to roles in transport and gas and oil exploration.

“Because my own career has been so varied I hope that gives the members some confidence that the governance of our Institute is representative of all areas of our profession, across all sectors, industries, specialisms and roles.”

After the board’s September meeting, Montgomery, along with the rest of the board, Balcon and the IEMA management team, will be focused on polishing Vision 2020 so that it can be presented back to members as the finished product.

“Once we have the vision developed, absolutely everything will be focused on achieving it and putting the right steps in place to make it happen,” she says. “The ultimate aim from this work is to support all of our members so that they can make a difference, as that seems to be what really drives them.”

Montgomery replaces Adrian Belton who served as chair of the board until June 2013.

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