At the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) AGM on 2 July, Neil Brackenridge was elected the new president for 2020/2021.
Brackenridge, who is the MEP regional director Midlands & North at Wates Group, takes over the role from John Norfolk of Imtech Engineering Services. In addition to being president, Brackenridge is chair of the National Education Committee and Skills Partnership and also served as chair of the North West region from 2017 to 2019.
During his career in the sector, which began as a craft apprentice with Crown House Engineering, Brackenridge has worked for Imtech, CHt, SES and Rosser & Russell. He was chosen as the Principle Winner of the HVCA Alfred Manly Award in 2002.
In his inaugural speech, Brackenridge said the industry must not revert to “business as usual” after the Covid-19 crisis ends. Instead, he called for the continued “unity of purpose” seen during the pandemic.
“We saw a new model for cooperative working on the NHS Nightingale emergency hospital projects,” Brackenridge said. “Let’s harness that unity of purpose to create a new collaborative model for all projects from now on.”
A spirit of cooperation and support would also attract a new generation of engineers. “Young people will be more inclined towards careers in building engineering if they see us making a difference in this way and working together for the greater good,” said Brackenridge.
The BESA president also noted the challenges that the sector faces. “Restarting the economy means restarting its buildings, but that presents a series of challenges. Going into the lockdown was relatively straightforward – getting out of it is proving complicated – not least the technical challenges involved in safely re-opening buildings and rebooting their services; and how to remain productive while getting to grips with new site restrictions.”
Brackenridge also stressed the need to continue implementing the Hackitt reforms to fire and building safety and for the sector to focus on energy efficiency and low-carbon heating system alternatives to reach the UK’s net-zero goals.