The month of April yields brighter skies and new optimism

As we emerge from winter and go full into Spring in the UK, I become fully energised at this time and the passing of the years does not diminish this. As we emerge from the gloom of winter, the weather improves, daylight hours get longer, I can cycle in the late evening sunshine and my life changes with the changing seasons.

Setting this new found optimism against a darkening international political backdrop slightly takes the edge off things for sure. These are worrying times. We are all watching what is happening in the world closely I am sure. It leads me to question if there are implications for the marine surveying sector specifically? I suspect not however.  Many surveyors already work in highly dangerous locations across the world and in difficult circumstances too, performing their important and challenging roles. But if I have one message it is to be safe in your work and to ensure you risk assess carefully.

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The year has started with a bang!

Already we are one month down in 2017 and things are busy at IIMS head quarters! The first few weeks have seen so much activity. Camella Robertson has joined to replace the soon to retire Jan Cox as Membership Secretary. Cam to her friends is settling in well at what is a busy time of the year for membership.

Already we have delivered two great, well attended training events. I relish the opportunity to get out and meet members, but equally non-members to talk about the work we are doing at IIMS and in particular the resources that are available to surveyors of all persuasions. Ultimately it is about helping great surveyors to become even greater by sharing all this mine of knowledge and expertise.

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Time for reflection at the end of an inspiring year

Firstly let me pass on my season’s greetings to all IIMS members who celebrate Christmas. May you have a peaceful and joyous holiday time.

The past twelve months have been memorable and I believe when we look back in time and reflect on 2016, our silver jubilee anniversary year, we will look back fondly and with pride. At a recent meeting with the head office team, I took the opportunity to share our achievements as an organisation and I think we were all genuinely surprised at what has happened over the past 52 weeks! It is always, in my opinion, important to recognise how far one has come before setting out one’s stall for the period ahead. Some of the things that go on behind the scenes at IIMS are not important to the wider world, but make a world of difference to the team – the installation of fast broadband, new PCs and a brand new server, for example, have transformed the way we work and our productivity this past year. And our progress as we embrace new technology and turn it to our members’ advantage is very pleasing.

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The magnitude of what we do

It is a while since I last posted to my blog here. In truth, my time has not been my own since the IIMS London Conference on the first day of September. There are busy fools of course and people who are busy with a purpose. I certainly identify with the latter. The past couple of months have seen IIMS meeting, training and sharing knowledge with dozens of marine surveyors, both members as well as others in the marine world.

Only after the delivery of a presentation, or a paper, does the magnitude of what we do or say become apparent as the audience assesses and gives feedback. But what exactly do I mean by that? In my role as CEO of IIMS I have a duty to think carefully before I speak, to ensure I strike the right chord and to deliver a message that is relevant. It is a responsibility I take very seriously and I always check and double check my content before releasing it in whatever format.

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Eight months to prepare, two days to deliver

Never before have I been dwarfed by two such menacing looking pirates!
Never before have I been dwarfed by two such menacing looking pirates!

It is hard to know where to begin as the dust starts to slowly settle on the IIMS 25th Anniversary Conference and AGM. I am sure I speak on behalf of my colleagues at head office, as well as myself, when I say how humbled we are by some of the kind comments people have made about the past couple of days.

The issue is that over eight months one gets far too close to these things and it is hard to see the wood from the trees. It is all about meticulous planning and envisaging the outcome of course. But ultimately it falls to others, the participants and delegates, to provide true feedback – and they have in the dozens and I am most grateful. If I sound emotional, then it is because I am. My colleagues and I put everything we had into organising this conference and I truly believe it was a fitting occasion to celebrate our silver jubilee.

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25th Anniversary Conference and AGM are upon on

August is generally the time for holidays in the UK; but not this year! My colleagues and I are exceedingly busy preparing for the forthcoming 25th Anniversary Conference at London on 31 August and 1 September, which at the time of writing is just 21 days away. By the way, you can book right up until a couple of days before the event. As our slogan for the event says, three iconic venues, one great Conference – and the event is relevant to both small craft as well as commercial surveyors. I had the pleasure of visiting all three venues last week to check and make the final arrangements and I was reminded of the sense of history each of these three venues provides and am delighted with the original choices. Those who choose to attend the various events are in for an interesting and full on couple of days with some great networking opportunities too. Videos will be released after the event of the presentations.

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Brexit, Seawork and all that

To say the last couple of weeks have been interesting and eventful would be an understatement to say the least.

Let me deal with the Brexit issue, as I have been repeatedly asked what it means for UK surveyors in particular in the past few days. The simple truth s that there is nothing or IIMS can say other than we will monitor as things develop in  the coming months. Until a new Prime Minister is elected it is impossible to know what the time frame for departure from the EU will be. But it seems clear that nothing will happen of note that will impact on surveyors probably for a couple of years.

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Modern ‘boat yards’ have moved on

Something very special took place last week. Like many millions of people in the UK, I grew up with deep respect for the RNLI, the world renowned, charitable organisation that keeps the coast of this country safe and saves the lives of those who get into trouble at sea. The brave and exceptional work they do through volunteers who crew their fleet is legendary.

So having admired the work of the RNLI it was rather humbling to be able to take a group of nearly 30 IIMS members to visit their head office and build/refit facility at Continue reading “Modern ‘boat yards’ have moved on”

Palma training was good and all is well with IIMS Canada

One of the things I enjoy most is getting out and meeting marine surveyors face to face and not just those who are members of the Institute. Because I work in a bubble at the IIMS head office for periods of time, it only by face to face meetings that I can learn more about the role of a surveyor and better understand the challenges surveyors are facing in their day to day roles. I also delight in being able to pass on news about the progress of the Institute too.

This was never truer than the recent two day Western Mediterranean Small Craft Working Group, held in Palma – click for a full report. To spend a couple of days with over 20 surveyors was a privilege. It gave us the opportunity to introduce a new group to the work of a coding Continue reading “Palma training was good and all is well with IIMS Canada”

25th Anniversary conference plans are complete

Mike Schwarz pic smallThe whole point of a blog I was taught was that it should be updated regularly. My apologies. The reason it has not been is testament to the sheer amount of activity that is going on in this, our 25th anniversary and Silver Jubilee year.

On that subject, much of my time in the first quarter of 2016 has been devoted to our celebrations and ensuring the special IIMS London Conference on 31 August and 1 September will be a success and memorable occasion. The result is, I believe, a very different and exciting two day event, which incorporates the Annual General Meeting and all at a very reasonable cost too. The morning of day one (31 August) offers delegates a small exhibition to enjoy and five high quality, technical workshops. At lunchtime we move seamlessly into the Silver Jubilee Awards for Excellence to be presented by Sir Alan Massey, CEO of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. More nominations are required please to keep the judging panel busy – and who would not want to be in the running for such a special award and recognition? You can make nominations here until 30 June and I encourage you to do so.

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It’s officially Spring in the UK

Photo taken at the small  craft training day in Watford last month
Photo taken at the small craft training day in Watford last month

Officially it is now Spring in the UK, although with night time temperatures still sub zero and snow around, we could be forgiven for arguing this point!

Life at IIMS is rarely dull. There have been some significant changes to report on since my last blog. Due to the increased work flow from the CMID Accreditation Scheme we are running for IMCA, we have run out of office space! This is actually a pleasant problem to have. So, after some negotiation, I am grateful to our tenants, Supported Living Ltd, who have agreed to release half of their space for our use. Hilary and Sam will move into that area to establish a Marine Surveying Academy nerve centre. Some slight modifications are required to the space and the builders are heading in this week to do their bit. We take up occupancy on 1 April.

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An encouraging start to 2016

Almost too small to be surveyed, but just an image I like!
Almost too small to be surveyed, but just an image I like!

As the Institute starts its twenty-fifth year of operation and prepares to celebrate its Silver Jubilee in 2016, I can report that things are busy at IIMS head office as we have hit the floor running.

Currently we are in the midst of migrating to a new server (finally replacing our 8 year old ‘ancient beast’). These things are never easy. We hit an unforeseen glitch last week, but the way is now clear and we expect to be fully operational on our new server environment imminently. At the same time, we have finally managed to find a solution to our appallingly slow internet connection that has dogged us for years. Simultaneously with the server migration, we are upgrading to a 30Mb broadband line. This is a very positive start to the year and will make us even more efficient!

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