Rebecca Thompson FCIOB, from York, and a specialist in heritage conservation and lecturer in building studies, has become the 114th President of the Chartered Institute of Building, only the second female ever to hold that position.
Rebecca used her inaugural address in front of industry leaders to call for a more inclusive profession, in which women, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities are actively welcomed into construction and provided the support to grow and develop.
“At the heart of diversity is inclusion”, she said. “It’s an attitude of ‘How can I make the work environment more conducive to people doing a good job’, regardless of their gender, ethnic background, or any disability.”
An inclusive mindset will also attract more young people to enter the sector, she argued, which is essential to addressing the current skills shortages in construction.
Rebecca said that “the better we make our industry – the more professional we are – the more we will attract young people. We have a tremendous offer: a career in which one can go back to a building years later and say, I helped build that.”
Rebecca’s current role as lecturer in Building Studies at York College provides an outlet for her passion for helping young people get a foot on the career ladder. Her many years in construction began as a quantity surveyor at Shepherd Construction and recently included seven years at York Minister, first as Superintendent of Works and then as Chapter Steward, a chief executive role.
With this extensive background in heritage and conservation, she intends to use her presidency also to promote training and development in this specialist field, and to remind people of the huge responsibility that building professionals bear for preserving the culture and history that is contained in buildings.
She said in her speech, “buildings do tend to take on a life of their own. Most of them outlast us all, carrying on to subsequent generations the original vision and values. And so they shape us, and as Churchill put it, regulate the course of our lives.”
Rebecca currently runs her own business, Thompson Heritage Consultancy Ltd. She has been a CIOB Trustee since 2015 and has held positions with numerous contractors and consultants, including EC Harris, Yorkon Limited, NHBC, and Shepherd Construction.