Sometimes the figurehead for a public organisation is chosen from among the good and the great; they appear, they serve for a year and then pass on. Not so the figurehead for our Institute – the President, or more latterly the Chair – as for the most part they have been elected from among members who have already given long service, on committees, organising events and in many other ways. The period as figurehead is of course intense – chairing various committees and conferences, visiting and speaking at regional meetings, and being the internal and public face of the Institute. The time and effort involved demonstrates a strong interest and commitment to the Institute and the profession.
But what happens to these figureheads after this marathon period of office? Some continue to serve in different roles; in our Institute, this has notably been in supporting our international body – ICMCI – in which a number of past Presidents (myself included) have acted as Trustees. Others simply breathe a sigh of relief and return to do their day jobs!
But disengagement with governance does not mean a complete loss of interest. And so it was that in 2008 I suggested that we might have a reunion dinner for past IMC past Presidents. (Although the Institute has recently gone through a number of name changes and the President was renamed Chair on merger with the Chartered Management Institute on the merger in 2004 to avoid confusion with the CMI President, we continue to give it this title as for most of the life of the Institute, this is what the figurehead has been called).
Fifteen past Presidents attended this reunion dinner, with apologies from 5 others; the most senior past President there was Anthony Howitt, who had held office in 1968 – 69. It was held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, with the sponsorship of past President Richard Popple. Lynda Purser, then director of the Institute also attended, giving us an update on how the Institute was faring.
The event was a great success and there was positive support for repeating it; since then we have done so on an annual basis, the most recent occasion being in March, again at the RAF Club which has been our regular venue.
Since that first dinner we have reconnected with other past Presidents of the Institute; and sadly have lost a couple – Anthony Howitt and Holman Hunt (President 1974 – 75).
I now have 24 past Presidents and Chairs on my list and we usually get some 15 – 16 to each of our dinners. The current Chair and CMI executive looking after IC affairs are also invited, and give a short update on what is happening in the Institute; we all still have an interest in its affairs.
There is an IMC Presidential badge, and we have developed the custom of the most senior past President wearing it during the course of the dinner. In the picture you can see Dennis Tindley (President 1988 – 89) wearing the badge at our recent dinner, seated with Adrian Williams (President 1992 – 93) and George Lapsley (President 1993 – 94).
Next year’s dinner is already booked; we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of holding them, and will look forward to further dinners for many years to come.
Calvert Markham – President 2004