Looking back over the last 150 years, the pace of change has been astounding. At the turn of the twentieth century, how many could have guessed where we would be today? We find ourselves in an age where air travel, personal computers and communicating with each other in an instant via satellites have all become part of everyday life. For professional organisations, there has been plenty to keep up with.

“There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olsen, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have witnessed incredible change since the organisation was founded, 150 years ago. From globalisation to e-commerce, environmental concerns and increased market competition, pressures have abounded. Yet, RICS has managed to stay relevant and go from strength to strength. I’ve seen first-hand how a willingness to adapt and evolve has been crucial to the organisation’s success.

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.”
Western Union internal memo, 1876

As RICS President in 2000/2001, I was part of the team who brought in the ’Agenda for Change’, an initiative designed to prepare the organisation for the challenges facing it at the turn of the Millennium. Going global was a key recommendation put forward in my report ‘The Future Role of RICS’ (known to many as The Harris Report) and it proved to be a turning point. I was also part of the RICS promotion task force, helping the organisation to achieve the global reach and standing that it deserves.

The above are just some of the many initiatives that demonstrate how RICS has been proactive about its future. Taking this approach has helped the organisation to survive and thrive.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
Lord Kelvin, Royal Society, 1895

On June 15 2018, RICS celebrated its 150th anniversary at a dinner in its Great George Street headquarters, London. A host of Past Presidents joined the existing Board, along with members and well-wishers, to mark the occasion. Here’s to many more successful years to come.

Pride in the Profession

To showcase and celebrate the many achievements of our profession, RICS has launched its ‘Pride in the Profession’ initiative. Nominate the people and projects that inspire you, and help to show how surveying has made – and is still making – a real difference to society.

Find out more

Jonathan Harris