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Executive opinion Making a mark

The ECA continues to evolve, but key issues still need to be addressed. Retiring group chief executive offi cer David Pollock refl ects on his 13 years at the ECA – and looks ahead


n 1997, when I was interviewed for this job, the panel emphasised the members’ role in running the ECA. That’s still very important, but the association’s affairs have become much more complex in the

last 13 years, and I believe the ECA now asks too much of officers and council and committee participants. Increasingly sophisticated ECA business ventures create even more challenges, practical and legal, for our volunteers. Through Council, members carry the ultimate authority. It is the staff’s job, though, to make the burden of exercising it as light as possible for them. Especially in the wake of recession, we must also minimise costs. Council has approved the principles of a Strategic Review

of Governance, which is aimed at rationalising all of this. I believe that the action plan should be bold and radical.

Excellence The ECA must be a byword for excellence. When I arrived, the ECA was already distanced from the National Inspection Council and we lacked systematic requirements for members’ work to be inspected and assessed. We celebrated the new millennium by putting that right. Our Periodic Technical Assessment was implemented well before certifi cation became more widely introduced through Part P of the Building Regulations. Following Part P, the association recognised that

certifi cation would be a crucial feature of the electrical contractors’ landscape and that the ECA needed to be infl uential in that fi eld. Hence the creation of EC Certifi cation and the acquisition of ELECSA. ELECSA now provides certifi cation for more than 6,000 companies. This is a great success story, substantially extending the ECA family. Maintaining a distinction between certification

bodies and the providers of trade association services is, however, a real challenge for the industry. The ECA should continue to give particular attention to it. Financially and operationally, the ECA is in sound shape.

Membership numbers have increased from something about 1,900 13 years ago to more than 3,000 now. And our fi nancial resources have grown to the point at which they can both subsidise members’ subscriptions and support some bold initiatives in the insurance market,

About the author

David Pollock David Pollock joined the ECA as director in 1997 and was appointed group chief executive offi cer in 2007.

including the acquisition, last year, of a Lloyds agency. Result: an important asset for the ECA, a framework for future commercial opportunities and, we trust, revenues to allow further improvements in ECA services. My colleagues in the insurance group have done a great

job in making these achievements possible. I know the association will be giving special attention to the challenge of managing our specialist businesses in the future.

Teamwork The scope and scale of the ECA’s operations have developed hugely over the last decade or so, thanks to a cracking staff team committed to the very best results for the members. It was an early priority for me to reinforce the regional

The greatest challenge is ensuring that we play our full role in the sustainability programme

offi ces by investing both in talented people and in buildings. I believe the regions are, and should continue to be, the mainstay of the association. We have needed a good team, given

the increase in the pace of change over the last 13 years. Then, the focus of most ECA companies was on traditional power and lighting work. Now the Fire

and Security Association (FSA) provides a model for future development in specialist activities – and there is a greater recognition of the need to differentiate services for different sizes of member companies, too. In 1997, many of the services that ECA now provides

– including credit rating, debt recovery, a whole range of training courses and the impressive ZAP health and safety initiative – were still in the future. And we were, of course, working to the old Wiring Regulations. ECA has contributed hugely to the latest UK and European Standards. All these developments refl ect the ECA’s attention to

corporate planning, which was a new departure in the late 1990s.

Presence The visibility of the association – its advertising, publicity and political profi le – has also changed immeasurably. Back in 1997, the ECA’s web presence consisted of a single static page. Advertising was negligible and our direct communication with government was sporadic and uncoordinated – a long way from today’s coherent programme.

Autumn 2010 ECA Today 13

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