CIEH and a journey of change

Anne Godfrey CCMI FCIM was appointed Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in January 2016. Specialising in change management within the not-for-profit space, Anne has a proven track record of delivering challenging targets while harnessing the skills, knowledge and passion of members, staff and external stakeholders. CIEH was recently shortlisted for both Professional Body of the Year and Agency Team of the Year with Trillium, its CRM and website partner, in the 2019 memcom membership awards. We are delighted to be able to publish this guest-blog from Anne (who herself has been shortlisted for The Louis Armstrong CEO Leadership Award) about CIEH’s three-year strategy and the results it is seeing after implementing some key changes across the organisation.

 

 Guest blog by Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

 

The biggest challenge that professional bodies and associations face today is relevance. If what you do, and who you do it for, is not relevant to your members and practitioners, you will fail. It may be a cliché, but that makes it no less true.

CIEH recently embarked on an ambitious journey of change, with the intention of rediscovering our relevance. It began in April 2016 when the Board agreed a three-year strategy which would impact on everything we did as a professional body.

The strategy saw the establishment of four strategic pillars (Membership, Professional Development, Voice & Visibility and Enablement) which have seen us modernise and replace our routes to professional practice, move from technical policy to campaigning and fundamentally restructure our organisation with new structures, systems and skills.

As part of our renewed focus on membership, we rolled out a new membership pathway which rationalised the number of grades from 14 to four, introduced a new Affiliate grade, an experiential route to Associate and Member grade, a new assessment route to Fellowship and a completely new Chartered Practitioner Programme.

We are now actively encouraging diversity by opening up membership to practitioners from the private sector, and non-traditional backgrounds, while supporting two apprenticeships. Both our membership and learning pathways are founded on our new Professional Standards and Competency Frameworks.

Historically CIEH had been a 100% local authority, graduate-only, profession. By modernising our membership pathway, we were able to win back practitioners who had moved into the private sector and now offer membership to private sector and non-environmental health graduates for the first time. The results of this confirmed that this was the right move, driving an increase from 5% to 20% in private sector membership.

For a long time, CIEH was known for producing technical, and slightly geeky, policy predominantly written by staff. We now take a campaigning approach, delivering public-facing campaigns on key environmental health issues. We are particularly proud of our work on air quality, single-use plastics, food and Brexit, and our support for the new Homes Fit for Human Habitation Act.

The creation of technical advisory panels, populated by practitioners across all disciplines, has allowed us to respond effectively to consultations, and legislative changes, as well as create best practice guidance using current knowledge of professional practice.

We radically overhauled our commercial offer, replacing our regulated vocational qualifications with a range of new products including work-based learning. This led to an 18% increase in our commercial income. A new learning management system was rolled out, along with an updated suite of e-learning modules for corporate clients and, for the first time, individual users.

Meanwhile, our annual conference was replaced by eight subject specific summits, each with sponsorship, which saw a rise in our event revenue. We had a very successful year with our relaunched members’ magazine (EHN) and jobsite (www.ehn-jobs.com), as preparation for Brexit had a significant impact (in a positive way) on the recruitment of environmental health practitioners.

Increasingly, we are seeing closer working between professional bodies and associations as the market forces us to be more open to the benefits of collaboration with other bodies in our space. The potential impact of Brexit has brought together bodies with a public protection ethos, and we have been campaigning together with a #donoharm theme.

There are definite benefits for non-competing organisations to discuss co-location, shared back-office functions, and even (dare I say it) consolidation. Whether it ever happens, we will see.

Ultimately, to be successful professional bodies need to be able to balance commerciality with delivering public good. It’s very simple – we have to make money to pay for the free stuff. We deliver profit, not surplus, to support our public protection objective. If we can get that right, the real challenge then is how to manage a staff culture with very different motivations to deliver this over the long term.