The word 'institution' can suggest many things – tradition, stability, longevity, legacy, strength, orderliness. Institutions can be graced by symbols, such as ceremonies, artefacts, routines and regalia. Institutions can be given form by rules and charters, principles and standards.
But I believe an institution is best observed in the behaviour of its adherents and nothing convinces me of this truth more than the many fruitful conversations and collaborations I have had with my professional peers as a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
I joined RICS in 2010. While there has been a great deal of change in our industry and our institution in the decade since that time, what has not altered is the passion and dedication I have observed in RICS members who apply their expertise, take pride in the profession, and find joy from working in what is inherently a creative pursuit.
By working in this realm, RICS members make the promise of our charter real. In your actions we see the purpose of this institution come to life, a testament to the values we hold dear and the impact we strive to make on the world. It is a true honour to serve as President and I promise to do my utmost to be your champion and secure for you the support you need from RICS to continue excelling in your important work.
Reflecting on his presidential year in his final column in these pages, outgoing President Clement Lau FRICS noted that this is a time of enormous change for the world, for the profession, and for the institution. Amidst turbulent geopolitics and an inflationary economic environment, RICS professionals have shown great resilience and forbearance, not only continuing to deliver in their work, but in the active role many are taking to help drive an unprecedented transformation of RICS itself.
As I stand in the dark wood-panelled Council Chamber at 12 Great George Street in London, and I look at the wall of names of the presidents that came before me, I cannot help but feel the weight of history. For more than 150 years this institution has existed to promote the usefulness of the profession to the public advantage, a stability of purpose that gives us strength, our north star in an ever-changing world.
The duty that this legacy bestows is an evolving set of unique challenges. As professionals and as an institution, today we must renew in order to keep pace with current demands, dispensing with ways of working that hold us back from delivering for the communities we serve.
Gifted with an institutional heritage that embodies strength, stability and legacy in the best sense, Governing Council has wholeheartedly taken up the work of guiding our institution in new directions so that it remains relevant, resilient and resolutely committed to its public duty. This work continues at pace with members in the lead, and I look forward to updating you as this important endeavour progresses.
There are many urgent issues facing our world, from the narrowing window to achieve Net Zero, the need to deliver an adequate supply of housing, and the imperative to protect natural resources. Whatever the challenges ahead, I am confident that from many disciplines working as one profession we will ensure that this institution and the values we hold will thrive, working together to achieve our fullest purpose in the years to come.
"As professionals and as an institution, today we must renew in order to keep pace with current demands, dispensing with ways of working that hold us back from delivering for the communities we serve" Ann Gray FRICS, RICS President