‘This has been an extraordinary experience’

In the final column of her 12-month tenure as RICS President, Ann Gray FRICS reflects on a year of positive change that will carry the Institution forward


  • Ann Gray FRICS

07 December 2023

Photography by Ball & Albanese

In this, the last month of my presidency I am naturally feeling a bit reflective. I know there are many thoughts and feelings that will emerge more fully formed in the years to come.

What follows are pretty green, unseasoned and probably somewhat superficial thoughts. But this has been an unprecedented year for RICS in many ways and, if I can, I’d like to share some of what makes me proud before I hand over the role to Tina Paillet FRICS.

This has been an extraordinary experience. Meeting RICS members from around the world has confirmed my deeply held belief that we are part of a profession that we all genuinely enjoy. Behind the headlines, we must not lose sight of the fact that RICS is a fellowship of diverse practitioners, sharing knowledge and experience, and providing mutual support and encouragement and, yes, enjoying time with one another.

I like to say, and I truly believe, I could parachute into almost any country in the world and be welcomed and invited in for a cup of tea with my RICS fellows.

Along the way, I’ve met surveyors who plan deep-ocean construction, surveyors who run castles, and even one who values yachts seized from drug traffickers! Whatever area of surveying you work in, your role is one that underpins the value of assets worth trillions and creates the environment we share. Every job we do matters, whether for a mega-project or a micro-business, a bondholder or a householder.

This is why it’s important that RICS is structured to support and advance professionalism in the public interest. It had become clear to most that members were desperate to see change and improvement, both in RICS’ priorities and in the execution of its day-to-day operations. From the outside, I understand that it often looked like little was happening this year; in truth, we were doing the unshowy and unglamorous work of laying solid foundations for a rebuilt and reinvigorated RICS.

“This has been an unprecedented year for RICS in many ways” Ann Gray FRICS, RICS President

Three-year plan

We now have an RICS Board to oversee management and a permanent Chief Executive who is filling out the senior ranks that have been dominated by interims for more than a year. We have a three-year strategic plan that now has an approved 2024 budget to implement its vision. World Regional Boards are now independent and more agile so they can be responsive to members in their areas. The new Knowledge and Practice Committee and its associated Professional Groups will reflect the breadth of our specialisms to inform policy, conduct research, and provide input to new standards.

Other key appointments include a new Senior Independent Governor, chairs of the Standards and Regulation Board and the Regulatory Tribunal, as well as chairs of DEI and sustainability. I should note here that the response to candidate recruitment by our search firms has been exemplary and RICS has had many great options from which to make selections. Serving RICS is considered prestigious and relevant.

We have the first Young Member on Governing Council, whose presence is already being felt. Our young members are proud of their credential and I, for one, am optimistic for the future because of the intelligence, energy and enthusiasm they bring. As a result, RICS is working toward expanding pre-credential and Matrics support beyond the UK and Ireland. Being chartered is something that, even after 142 years, people still aspire to. Although many of us are senior professionals, let’s remember there is plenty to be proud of.

Member engagement and satisfaction is up as we return to in-person events. Our relationship with government is excellent. Collaborations with other leading global organisations that had been neglected are on the upswing, providing tangible benefits such as the development of industry-wide standards, the benchmarking of critical data, and sharing best practice.

What being a member looks like

A new envisioning of what a top-notch member experience looks like, from logging in through paying subs to attending events, it’s a 2024 priority. It will be easier to get what you need whether you’re a member, a candidate or a partner anywhere in the world.

I won’t pretend it has all been smooth or easy. I would be remiss if I did not emphasise the utmost respect and gratitude I have for a staff that has held down the fort while governance was in flux.

Change is difficult, but I believe wholeheartedly in the results of this year’s hard work. But mere stability and consistency are now a low bar for RICS. I anticipate solid, tangible results from the unified creative vision that characterises our new leadership.

“Change is difficult, but I believe wholeheartedly in the results of this year’s hard work” Ann Gray FRICS, RICS President

In my January inaugural speech, I drew the analogy that RICS was like a house that had been torn down to the framing and that this year was about putting the drywall back and starting to feel like we were home again. That is how it feels to me now.

So, while my term may be over, the work of the RICS presidency continues. I tell Tina I am jealous that her presidency won’t be about structural reform. It will be a year joyfully refocused on the real work of RICS and its members – standards, assessments, events, thought leadership, professional consultation and much, much more of the fun parts of what we do in our everyday jobs.

Please join me in wishing Tina all the best as she assumes this awesome mantle, and good health to you all!


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