Geoff French, Chair of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, became the 149th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers last week.
Geoff was Chairman of Basingstoke-based engineering consultants, Scott Wilson, for eight years before its acquisition by URS in 2010. He has over 40 years’ experience providing transportation and development advice to central government, banks, major developers, local government and international funding agencies.
Geoff became Chair of Enterprise M3 when it was established in 2011 and has spearheaded the LEP’s economic development work, including the establishment of its £21.7m Growing Enterprise Fund which has helped fund a range of projects that are creating housing and jobs for local people, including the Sheerwater Access Road in Woking and the redevelopment of the Farnborough Airshow site. Enterprise M3 is also championing investment from government into the area through the Local Growth Fund. This Fund is worth £2 billion a year over the next five years and is to be spent on initiatives across England that will support businesses and drive economic growth.
During his Presidential Address at ICE’s HQ in Westminster on 5 November, Geoff spoke about the important role that civil engineers play in shaping society and driving economic growth. His address had strong echoes with the needs of the Enterprise M3 area in the importance of infrastructure and the development of specialist skills for growth. As part of his address, Geoff said: “Civil engineers design, build and maintain the infrastructure needed for society to function effectively. Around the world and across the centuries, bridges, railways, highways, ports and airports have been built to facilitate the pace of human progress. Virtually every piece of infrastructure shapes how we live our lives day-to-day.
“Over the past few years, infrastructure has rightly gone from being one of the most important things people never thought much about – to an issue at the heart of political and public debate. Engagement with policy makers has played a key role in this, but this exposure isn’t something we can take for granted.
“We civil engineers have a responsibility to use our integrity to communicate the reality of civil engineering - so our profession gets the recognition it deserves, we inspire the engineers of the future and also prove that we are not only shaping society today, but are prepared to tackle the challenges facing the world tomorrow.”
Kathy Slack, Director of Enterprise M3, said: “Geoff is a real asset to Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership. He brings to us a wealth of business experience and works tirelessly to bring together all the partners from across business, public and not-for-profit sectors in our area with the common purpose of making the Enterprise M3 area the best place to do business in the country. His knowledge and experience in the infrastructure field has been invaluable in the preparation of our plans. I am sure that he will bring the same dedication and enthusiasm to his role as ICE President.”
A copy of Geoff’s Presidential Address is available at www.ice.org.uk/News-Public-Affairs/ICE-News/Geoff-French-becomes-149th-ICE-President