“We need to harness the passion and skills of the next generation”, says new FIDIC CEO

Bringing a close to the latest FIDIC annual conference, the organisation’s new chief executive has stressed the importance of inspiring the next generation of engineers in ensuring businesses continue to stay ahead of the curve and remain profitable.

Nelson Ogunshakin addressing delegates was wrapping up another successful conference and the first under his leadership. The new man at the helm told the audience how it would be a “missed opportunity” if organisations and firms did not make the engineers of tomorrow an integral part of their operations.

Today marks the end to a packed schedule of events in Berlin with around 800 leaders representing companies from across the globe attending. 

Young people have been involved from the start with the Young Professionals report, The reflection of Young Professionals, presented to those in attendance. 

The report covers a number of crucial issues for the industry and offers a fresh and relevant take on challenges and opportunities but from the perspective of younger members of the sector who are more in touch with future generations who will be directly affected by the work and influence of consulting engineers. 

Ogunshakin in his closing speech reaffirmed that people and profitability are the big drivers within the industry. 

“I believe both people and profitability go together as people are the engine of our industry but at the same time we need to run businesses efficiently, so achieving a surplus allows us to reinvest in people,” he added. “We should not be scared to say we want to run a profitable business, as if we don't make a profit then we are merely a charity. It’s important we harness the passion of the IT younger generation and take advantage of their technical skills so firms can continue to evolve.”

The chief executive’s thoughts were echoed in voting that has taken place over the last few days. When delegates were asked what keeps them awake at night, 49% of attendees unsurprisingly earmarked a lack of profitability, while almost a third (30%) highlighted the skills shortage as the biggest challenge for the industry.

This year’s conference theme has been focused on mobility and smart infrastructure with the aim of answering questions like what new technologies and business plans will dominate? How can government structure and adapt to catalyse the next generation of innovation and improve the user experience? Who are the decision makers in our future?

Industry leaders have said how technology is changing the world we live in and impacting the way we live and work with many speaking believing an interdisciplinary approach needs to be central in creating the cities of tomorrow.

FIDIC president Alain Bentéjac also spoke to close the conference. He hailed the event as one of the best that has been organised. 

Bentéjac said four words stood out to him after listening to panel speakers and presentations. These were change, green, digitalisation and people. He reaffirmed that despite expanding technologies, it was people who inspired change as it is them who utilise tools like digitalisation. Without people's knowledge and expertise, technology potential could not be realised, according to the FIDIC president. 

But as delegates prepare to leave Berlin, thoughts are already turning to next year when people will once again travel in their hundreds for the next FIDIC conference in Mexico City in September 2019.

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