Presidential Review (Elaine Campbell)

AACE Dinner 2019

As I near the end of my Presidential term I am keen to briefly share my thoughts and learnings over the past 2 years.

When Past President Kevin Burnett asked me if I was willing and wanted to follow in his footsteps, I was very surprised and taken by shock. He was certainly correct in warning me that the time would pass super-fast! I’ve really enjoyed my time and have met so many people through the role, particular highlights definitely include being invited to local Aberdeen society/organisations’ annual dinners and seeing buildings I would never otherwise have been in (as an aside – please do visit the Society of Advocates and Trinity Hall if you get the chance on Doors Open Day!).

 

Thinking back over the last two years to local engineering projects, a lot has changed! Wind turbines have been installed off the coast of Aberdeen, the rail line between Aberdeen and Dyce doubled and we finally saw the opening of the much-awaited AWPR. From an AACE perspective, we have celebrated the 200th anniversary of the ICE and been presented with our very own Coat of Arms. Our very successful annual dinners raised £2900 for Sandpiper Wildcat in 2019 and £2500 to local Aberdeen community group Man Chat Aberdeen in 2020.

 

I think in a volunteering role, it is often difficult to give as much as you want to give in terms of time. Us volunteers give up lots of time and tend to be people who are already doing lots – as the saying goes, “if you want something done ask a busy person”. It took time, but I eventually realised you can’t do everything, so my aim became to try and add a little to leave things in better shape than you picked them up. Our new website was also a goal and thanks to Hughie McIntyre has become a reality!

 

A year into the role, I found out I was pregnant and naively thought that it would be easy and wouldn’t impact things at all. I completely underestimated motherhood and found things really hard in the beginning. As things started to settle down, baby did just “come along” and attended evening presentations as well as ICE Scotland meetings in Stirling and an ICE President’s breakfast in Aberdeen. Babies’ attendance at meetings certainly brought the average age down! Having the support of the AACE Council behind me meant that the team could pick things up if I was having a particularly bad day and would have to miss a meeting. I’m very grateful for all their help and support. My husband deserves thanks too as he often came along to meetings to be an extra pair of hands!

 

By being flexible and adaptable with my baby, I hope that I have helped inspire others with young families to take up or continue volunteering roles. My Presidency really helped me to still feel like me rather than being a mum all the time and wasn’t as big a commitment as returning to work earlier. Parenthood is challenging for lots of people and keeping your own sense of identity can be hard. I believe that having commitments and the AACE support certainly helped me.

 

I’m proud of the diversity the AACE has shown recently – one highlight being attending a Bridges to Schools event with myself, a nearly retired member, someone mid-career and a new dad on paternity leave who was an extra pair of hands on the day, but able to take his baby along with him. As always, we are on a journey and there are always opportunities for improvements.

 

Thanks to all who have helped me during the past two years, I’ve really appreciated it. I wish James all the best in the future.

If you are keen to help or have any suggestions for the future, please get in touch via the website or email president@aacivilengineers.co.uk.

 

Elaine Campbell, AACE President 2018-2020