Chair's Report - 2016/17

Dear Member,

I was appointed chair in January to take over from James Hickman whose circumstances meant he was unable to continue. James was Chair for a little over a year and brought vision and energy to the role. We were sorry he had to resign and would like to thank him for his contribution.

London Central Branch has always been active and well supported by its members. It has a history of running a topical and forward-looking Programme of events. It is a privilege to be able to contribute, particularly over this special year of celebration of 60 years of the BCS as we reflect on our charitable purpose - Making IT Good for Society.

Review of This Year's Programme

The Programme is our main concern as a Committee and it is not just a wonderful source of professional development on a range of important topics given by leading speakers, it is also a great way to network with other professionals. Each month I greatly enjoy seeing fellow professionals discussing the topic of the meeting and getting to know each other as a community over food and drink.

Thank you all for attending, asking good questions, and engaging with the each other and our speakers.

Our year started in September with a topical subject for many of us these days, the role of leadership in successful post-acquisition integration, given by Henry McNeill of Computerbright.

This was followed in October with an important update for those of you involved in procurement when Ashley Shelbrooke from the Government Digital Service explained the new requirements that came into force last year.

In November we learned about another hot topic for the industry - how Robotic Process Automation works and the potential impact on business operations, in a stimulating talk by Peter Walker of Blue Prism.

In the new year, Janet Hughes explained to a fascinated audience how being Bold, Open and Positive as a style of leadership had worked in delivering a major cross-government and how its principles might apply more widely.

The following month, in a hugely popular talk on Computers, Code and Covert Action, Dr Kristian Gustafson from the Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies at Brunel showed us how computer science and information technology are challenging the intelligence profession. For this, we were oversubscribed. I apologise to members inconvenienced.

Using machine learning on graphical images of speech to produce a transcription, and the application to everything from the legal sector to detecting prison deal making, was the thought provoking subject of a talk by Nigel Canning from Intelligent Voice, in March, titled ‘What’s in that Audio File?’

Later in March, and very appropriately for Science Week, Professor Kaspar Althoefer, from Queen Mary University of London described the impressive and exciting research he has been doing on Stiffness-Controllable Robots for Minimally Invasive Surgery, which are effective where rigid systems can’t be used.

We were most privileged, in May, when Ray Long, last year’s President of BCS, led a lively debate on the Past Present and Future of the BCS, taking some of us on a trip down memory lane in the process.

Finally, in June Professor Ingemar J. Cox of University College London and University of Copenhagen showed how he has been able to discover Live Health Trends using machine learning and public data sources like Google to generate important medical insights. Thank you to our speakers who contributed to making our Programme so valuable, and our organisers too.

Student Prize Giving

Each year in September we organize a prize-giving for top students from eleven London Universities. At the beginning of the Branch’s year (September 2016), Ray Long, BCS President, presented the prizes. It is always a pleasure to attend this. The prizes are given for varied and universally impressive reasons provided by their Universities.

Michael Khong’s organization meant it all ran very smoothly. Thank you Michael.

Student Prize Giving - September 2016

Other Events

We continue to offer a greatly valued free online workshop about finding a new job, CV best practice; effective LinkedIn profiles; letters of application networking and interviewing.
We secured a discount for Central London Branch members attending a stimulating and well-attended series of two AI & Robotics discussion days looking at the impact on work.

Thanks and Recognition

Being a Committee Member is a significant commitment. I am sure you will join me in wanting the recognise the Committee’s work in organising the Programme and other events and to thank all of last year’s Committee members for their time, their dedication and attendance at meetings after work.

The Secretary’s is a vital one in managing the basic logistics and keeping formal records. Thank you, Sebnem, for your attention to detail and the speed with which you became an expert.
The Treasurer role is equally important in helping us plan our finances and ensuring a proper account is maintained. Thank you, Alan, for your unerring efficiency.

Joining In

Finally, if you too would be interested in joining the Committee, please let me know.

Simon Jewell, MBCS, CITP
19 October 2017