Professional Pest Controller Magazine Issue 90

27 February 2018

Passing torches: an interview with Ian and Simon

Feature your association | PPC90 March 2018

At the time we were getting PPC90 together one CEO was leaving and another was yet to start. Instead of your usual Chief Exec Viewpoint, PPC managed to grab Ian Andrew before his 1 February start date and sat him down alongside Simon Forrester for a chat.

Passing torches

Welcome both of you. Is this the first time you’ve met?

Simon Forrester:  It’s not actually. I was kindly invited to sit in on the first round of interviews when they’d whittled the 100 applications down to just six. While I only got a couple of minutes after the interview, I made time to have a quick chat with Ian.

Ian Andrew:  I must have done something right!

So how did we get to this point?

SF:  [laughs] I suppose it’s my fault. Last year it was pointed out to me I’d been with BPCA for well over seven years - longer than any job I’d ever had. That encouraged me to dig out the original notes I made before I’d applied for the role. I noticed I’d ticked off almost all the things on it that had attracted me to the job.

And they were?

SF:  Things like professionalising the industry, driving the launch of CEPA Certified®, sorting out PPC magazine, expanding PestEx, and a few other things including creating our current offices, bringing in a working CRM database and creating a functioning website. [PPC note: a few weeks before Simon started, BPCA’s website was hacked and had to be deleted!]

And what didn’t you accomplish?

SF:  The only two empty spots on my trophy wall are a single united voice for the sector, and a formal structure of regulation. Both have evaded me.

I can’t understand why for such a tiny but important sector, we have so many voices all giving slightly different messages - and neither can civil servants. Since I started, this list has expanded; there’s RAMPS, CRRU, and a few other acronyms besides. We’ve overcome this to some extent with the Pest Management Alliance, though it’s not ideal. But the real ‘one that got away’ for me is regulation.

IA:  And that’s where I come in. The key thing that attracted me to the role is the opportunity to help create a proper regulatory framework for this industry.

How does your experience sit with this goal?

IA:  That depends what the right thing is for the sector. There are several options and they will all include building on what is already there by way of qualifications and other quality assurance badges.

We could look towards being regulated externally but I would prefer to build regulation internally.

What would you say is your most relevant experience for your new job?

IA:  If I am a professional in anything, it is membership. My experience covers both individual membership and organisational membership propositions and ranges from the charity sector to a chartered professional body to my current role which delivers management consultancy through a membership proposition. Moving to BPCA brings an exciting new aspect of membership which I can’t wait to get my teeth in to.

What attracted you both to your new CEO roles?

I wanted to get into a new sector and one that took professionalisation seriously, so what better than one that is talking about regulation? Having led on the development of a new professional body for another sector, this experience may come in handy.

IA:  For me, it was a combination of things. I really enjoy the challenge of learning about an entirely new sector, and I had been thinking about which areas of business I hadn’t yet covered in my career. The one that jumped out was retail, and the jewellery sector delivers that in spades – about half the members are retailers.

How will you handle learning an entirely new sector?

IA:  Well, while I don’t know the sector well, I know it well enough that I would rather, as a member of the public, have assurance that my home, the food I eat, the restaurants I visit, the hotels I stay in and really wherever I may go, are doing everything they can to manage pests effectively.

There is no point in shying away from the fact that pests are a problem that need to be dealt with. There is scope for a much more positive message to be heard about professional pest management.

SF:  I’ll throw myself into understanding a sector I know virtually nothing about. The most significant interaction I’ve had previously with the jewellery sector was buying an engagement ring – probably typical of most of us. And seven years ago I felt the same about pest control, having just been a distress purchase ‘punter’ before. It’s only when you really get under the skin of a sector that you see it properly.

Simon, what advice would you give to Ian?

SF:  If I remember back to when I started, the main thing I’d recommend is to get out to see the membership and really understand what they do day-in, day-out. I came to the sector with some prejudices about pest control, and within a few weeks my eyes had truly been opened as to the value of and variety in what BPCA members do.

IA:  Yes, that’s a key part of my first hundred days, getting out to see people, particularly our members.

Ian, what are your first impressions of our sector?

IA:  It is in an exciting place, with more and more work being contracted out to the private sector. We need to ensure that BPCA members are picking up that work through referrals and potentially sharing and supporting tenders. There is much to be done to ensure that potentially dangerous substances are dealt with by professionals and that there is both assurance and accountability to support this.

And what is the most important thing for the future?

IA:  Pest management is a profession to be proud of, and as a profession, it is important that we continue to provide that assurance to the public through having well trained, qualified and competent professionals. BPCA is well placed to continue to support our members and aspiring members in being the best they can be.

What do you see as your greatest challenges?

IA:  Bringing in the membership to a single point of view. What suits some may not suit others but we need to ensure the right collaborative decision is reached, whether that is regulation or in other matters.

That’s always a challenge, particularly when the industry is split between two associations, and not everyone is engaged with either. I know our Board and President want to address that.

So when you’re not busy learning all about your new industries, what will do you do to unwind?

IA:  Work is important but so is work-life balance. I am separated and have two daughters in their twenties. I travel regularly, particularly to Scotland, to catch up with family and friends. I enjoy my holidays abroad combining a bit of culture with my holiday objective of reading a novel per day, preferably on a sunbed, somewhere warm.

SF:  My kids are just of school age, so I don’t get the luxury of a day reading on a sunbed – I’m in the pool with them. But it’s great to watch them learning new things. Last year I taught my son to play computer games and he’s already beating me on a regular basis. Apart from that, with my new job being based half of the week in London I think I’ll try to do some cultural stuff in the evenings.

Simon, is this the last we’ll see of you now you’re moving on to something a little more ‘bling’ than pest control?

SF:  [laughs] I will be concentrating on the new job that’s for sure – I start on 22 January. However I’ll be very interested to see how Ian and the team take on the challenges and successes we’ve had so far. I will try to come back next year for PestEx; it’ll be nice to renew friendships and see how things are doing.

You’ll be welcome Simon, and thank you for all your work to get us where we are today. Thanks to you both, and good luck to you both too!


1964 Born Stonehaven, Scotland
1976-82 Mackie Academy, Stonehaven School
1985 MA in History and International Relations, Aberdeen University
1986 Post Graduate Diploma, Hotel, Catering and Institutional Management, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
  Assistant Manager, Swallow Hotels
1987 Head of Operations: Scotland, Hotel and Catering Training Company
1995 Policy Review Officer, Scottish Qualifications Authority
2000 Bachelor of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
2003 Contact Centre Manager
2006 Management roles at Chartered Management Institute
2013 Senior Exec roles at the Beech Centre for People, Performance and Organisational Development
2018 Chief Executive, BPCA
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