‘I have seen first-hand the positive impact of your work’

Outgoing RICS President Clement Lau recalls some of the most memorable moments of his tenure and why professionals are building a better future together


  • Clement Lau

05 December 2022

Clement Lau stood against marble wall

I have often reflected in these columns on what it means to serve the public advantage. In my experience, I have always found the most reliable answer in the inspiring professionals whose work makes a difference to the world around them.

Beyond showing a commitment to technical excellence, the impact of such individuals derives from an attitude best summarised as a steadfast commitment to using their expertise to serve something greater than any one of us. 

While it is easy to suppose that such people would be the exception rather than the rule, in my career I have been fortunate to meet many exemplary professionals, and never more than during my presidential year. The 16 months I have served as RICS President have flown by. There have been so many memorable and sometimes poignant events, from the Platinum Jubilee to the state funeral of our Patron, Queen Elizabeth II.

But throughout I have been blessed to encounter thousands of professionals working every day for a better world. Many of you I have seen in person, at one of the hundreds of meetings, conferences and social gatherings I have been fortunate to attend in the course of my duties. There I have seen first-hand the positive impact of your work, whether helping to unlock investment in much-needed green infrastructure, or to build more secure homes and offices for communities facing off ever more extreme climate conditions and natural disasters.

Many others of you I met online, via the digital platforms that have enabled productive dialogue and collaboration at scale since the start of the pandemic. When challenged to innovate and remain strong in the face of pressure, you rose to the challenge, revealing the grit in delivery and the selflessness in supporting one another which have I always found in members of our special community. The resilience and camaraderie I saw in the face of unique challenges impacting our sector have built bonds that will surely endure beyond this unprecedented period and long into the future.

Others have taken the time to write to me, setting out in detail, and with the forthrightness that distinguishes members, how RICS can best support the profession, and what character of institution we must pursue to fulfil our public interest promise of sustainability in the future. Your patience and devotion to professionalism have shone out in every word of every letter and email I have received, and whether celebratory or constructively critical, I know that your interventions are born always of the utmost care for the calling we follow, and a desire to see it flourish today and ever onward.

However we have met, it has been a privilege to meet all members of RICS, who are passionate and supportive actors in this profession’s life and story. You have given me the energy and strength to deliver my obligations and responsibilities, as well as proving excellent company throughout.

Nevertheless, the road we have walked has not always been smooth. Even now, we are embarked on the most significant set of changes to the institution that any of us can recall. This requires patience and determination, as we work at pace to capitalise on our progress and to realise the vision of a member-led institution with public interest at its heart. The Bichard RICS Review has set the course for RICS to a brighter and more prosperous future with the support of our members. You have given, and continue to give, generously of your time and energy, and I have no doubt that your dedication along with that of all RICS colleagues will make this institution all it can be, in service of the highest public good.

As I pass the great privilege and responsibility of the presidency on to Ann Gray – a professional I admire immensely and a person I trust absolutely to honour the promise of this great office – I am confident that this family of professionals will go from strength to strength in the coming months and years. I am convinced of the power of chartered surveyors to change the world for the better, and even more so the coming generations of students, trainees and new professionals it has been my privilege to meet. Their example inspires faith in a future where our profession remains trusted to help humanity face an uncertain world with confidence, and we must continue to build a profession where the talents of all are welcome and recognised.

So let me dedicate this, my final column as President, to you, the members of RICS. You have consistently shown me the way, in all that you do and all that you are, and, for that, I thank you deeply. At our best, chartered surveyors show not just the measure in all things – the modus in rebus to which we hold fast – but also the measure of ourselves. In my estimation, you have surpassed all measurement and exceeded my expectation of your professionalism and kindness. 

It has been my honour to serve you as President, and I look forward to our continued friendship and fellowship in the years ahead.

“I am convinced of the power of chartered surveyors to change the world for the better, and even more so the coming generations of students, trainees and new professionals” Clement Lau, RICS President


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