CIBSE NI region continues to grow

Jonathan Grimshaw, CIBSE NI Chair and Director of AVS, talks to Ireland's Electrical Magazine about his role as Chair of CIBSE and as a business leader...

Jonathan Grimshaw, CIBSE NI Chair.

CIBSE NI and CIBSE Ireland are part of a global network providing professional support and expertise to members working in partnership with other professional bodies, construction and engineering firms worldwide. 

CIBSE promotes the career of building services engineers by accrediting courses of study in further and higher education by approving work based training programmes and providing routes to full professional registration and membership, including Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician. Once qualified, CIBSE offers a range of services, all focused on maintaining and enhancing professional excellence throughout a career 

Whether your field is energy efficiency, lighting, heating and ventilation, public health, commissioning or facilities management, membership of CIBSE can help support you on a day to day basis and help you develop professionally within the building services industry. 

EM: How do you see your role as Chair of CIBSE NI? What are your responsibilities? 

JG: This is my second spell as the Northern Ireland Regional Chairman of CIBSE. It was an honour to be asked to stand as chairman the first time, but it is even nicer second time around. 

The role has been somewhat curtailed during the current global pandemic but still entails the coordinating of a dedicated group of volunteers who act as our regional committee. The main responsibilities are in coordinating events and CPD seminars alongside our regional secretary and taking the time to publicise the Institute and try to engage with potential new members to continually grow the region. 

EM: When you hand over the Chair of CIBSE NI to another, what would you like people to say about what has been achieved? 

JG: As with my first answer, the global pandemic has greatly curtailed our activities as a region. It is my hope, with the current situation in mind, to hand over the region to a newly elected chairman as a thriving and active region of CIBSE. 

EM: What inspires you to go to work every day? 

JG: Quite simply, I enjoy what I do. Smoke ventilation and life safety is still a bit of a niche area of expertise. It is an area where you want your designs to work seamlessly but never want your systems to actually need to work. 

I enjoy the challenges of new and evolving technology and seeing it make a difference to the safety of people’s lives in the buildings we protect. 

EM: How do you like to fill your spare time? 

JG: I am a keen cyclist – road and mountain bike – and enjoy the opportunity to get out on my bike and effectively switch off from the everyday hassles for a couple of hours or at least until the phone is turned on again. 

Covid permitting, I am undertaking a 300-mile London to Paris cycling challenge in July in aid of Clic Sargent, the children’s cancer charity, which is currently my focus in training and planning etc. Sponsorship is always welcome so please feel free to get in touch. 

EM: How has Covid-19 impacted your business strategy? 

JG: It would be remiss not to consider the impact on the business of Covid-19. With the general turndown in the construction industry on both sides of the Irish Sea, AVS did see an initial curtailment in works. However, tendering never really stopped and in fact for an early period of the initial Lockdown it actually increased. 

When the construction sector took a second to evaluate things and reopen sites etc. it was relatively unscathed. This was bolstered by UK and Irish Government strategy of maintaining open sites. Projects that had initially been delayed in their start are now running and we have had zero contracts lost due to Covid-19. 

One of the biggest impacts throughout this pandemic has been the cost of transport, and in particular, flights. Pre-pandemic we would have used flights frequently, but that need has been replaced by the world of Team and Zoom meetings. Government investment strategy, both British and Irish to engineer recovery will provide opportunities for AVS going forward. 

EM: If you could employ anybody from the worlds of business or sport, who would it be and why? 

JG: As an avid Liverpool FC fan, it goes without saying that the person I would want to employ would be Steven Gerrard. Looking back on May 25, 2005, Liverpool were 3-0 down to AC Milan at half-time in the final of the Champions League in Istanbul. The turnaround in fortunes for the team in the second half, led on the field by Steven Gerrard, and the miracle of Istanbul that came to fruition at the end of the game when the team lifted their fifth Champions League will live on for a lifetime in the memory of the fans. I believe the motivation and drive which Steven Gerrard showed on the pitch that evening would be every bit as invaluable in the business world. 

EM: What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

JG: I am not sure of the source of the quote, but it’s meaning is as true today as it was the day I was told it first: “People don’t care about your business. They care about their problems. Be the solution they’re looking for!”. 

If you are interested in finding out more about joining the Northern Ireland Region committee or another CIBSE committee then please contact Jonathan Grimshaw at

Whether you’re starting out, have been working in the field for many years or already professionally registered with another engineering institution, the CIBSE range of membership grades means that there is a level to suit everyone. 

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