Reflections on BVAA Chairmanship

by Colin Findlay

‘It’s been 5 years since I took on the Chair of the British Valve & Actuator Association, and it is now time to step down and hand over the baton.   It’s also a good time to reflect on my time at the helm of the BVAA. 

Trade Associations are a reflection of their industry.  For some industries the model is almost social, giving members the opportunity to connect.  Others are substantially more political, working as lobbying organisations.   This depends mainly on the size, scale and importance of their industry to the industrial landscape.   

The British Valve Industry is strong, vibrant and meaningful and the work, style and nature of the BVAA reflects that status.  We are rightly proud of the work of the BVAA team.  This came to the fore during the COVID pandemic and Brexit, when the BVAA became the trusted conduit for Government guidance and rules, and worked hard to ensure members were connected and using best practice. 

With the world in turmoil, energy security has become a new concern, raising costs to unprecedented levels.  We have to prepare our businesses for the technical changes required for energy transition, the manufacturing changes coming from modern adaptive manufacturing techniques, and the reliability focus that will impact our markets.   

Valves are ubiquitous - they reach every single market and every form of process – they have a critical impact on safety and production.  The BVAA works hard to ensure that Governments, Regulators, specifiers and end users understand the critical importance of the valve industry.  Our message is “we perhaps don’t have the scale, but our product has critical impact on all types of industrial performance.” 

During my first few months as Chair, we worked on the message that within the BVAA we are ‘stronger together.’   Despite the impact of COVID and the stress of the world economy, BVAA membership remains solid.   It’s important that we retain the confidence of the industry and our members, and I firmly believe that the consistency of our membership comes from the outgoing, front-foot and engaged work of the Banbury HQ team.   

The BVAA is strong is a number of ways.   The Secretariat team is well led, provides the same support to every member large or small, offers a range of skills, knowledge and experience.  Our technical focus is a critical component driving and influencing standards which impact our members and the wider industrial world. Our Training is substantive, and our networking events are high value and highly regarded. 

The BVAA is financially strong – not wealthy, but robust - having taken the opportunity to buy and then pay-off the mortgage for our HQ and build some reserves.   But year-on-year, the BVAA Board have to balance providing relevant services with tight budgets – so that our membership costs remain aligned to the range of members and their ability to pay.  I am pleased to have been part of the team that has kept the BVAA on track through recent troubled times. 

As Chairman my role is to lead and to guide the Association.  My particular focus has been on ensuring that the Valve Industry is understood in Government departments and that we use the strength and gravitas of our members, large and small, to lobby and get our message where it needs to be heard. In recent times I have taken the BVAA message to Ministers, Ambassadors, trade envoys, even the presidents and CEOs of Shell, BP and Aramco. 

I have one final thought.  The introduction of the Future Leaders Programme into the BVAA was designed to look forward and ensure that the industry as a whole has capable, well educated, and well-rounded individuals coming through to lead our future.  I have played a small part, but the praise goes to the 50 or so individuals who are now operating within our industry, having graduated from the programme.  They have grown their careers, through hard work, enthusiasm and a clear understanding of personal investment.  I wish them and the industry a great future. 

I have enjoyed my time in the Chair but the time is now right to hand over.  We have a prospective Chairman, awaiting the decision of the AGM, who will bring youth, vigour and acumen to the Association and the industry.  Times are hard and getting harder - the industry must stand up for its place where our products are valued.  The Association’s role is to ensure that this effort continues and that all members of the industry continue to be supported as they have for the past 80 years.

With regards and my thanks for the opportunity to lead.’

Colin A. Findlay

Published: 8th November 2022

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