Norman Eason, who died in February 2022, was the first President of the Institute of Asset Management, set up in 1994.
SAM: Norman, how did you come to be interested in Asset Management?
NE: I was involved in maintenance and developed an interest in computer technology. In the 1970s I was approached to see IF the new computer technology could be applied to maintenance. It seems strange to say this now, but this was over 25 years ago. I developed computer aided maintenance management packages, one of them, Rapier, won a major European award.
SAM: You are currently President of the British Institute of Asset Management with over 300 members drawn from manufacturing, process industries and utilities. I believe that you were responsible for inaugurating this Institute? How did this come about?
NE: Companies were buying computer maintenance packages without a maintenance strategy and without linking their information requirements to the business. It seemed about time we addressed this issue and, incidentally, raised the profile of maintenance and asset management generally. I lobbied for it from 1992 and it was established in March 1995.
SAM: What were the objectives of your Institute when you started?
NE: We had three: (1) Improved professionalism of Asset Management (2) Improved awareness of Asset Management and (3) Improved status for our members.
SAM: In the past 4 years has the focus changed at all?
NE: Not really, if anything we have been strengthened in our resolve and would like to expand.
SAM: What have been the major achievements of the Institute to date?
NE: I would say that we have elevated asset management from a trade to a profession. For example, we were instrumental in getting the MSc course in Maintenance at the Robert Gordon University.
SAM: Robert Gordon has a speciality in off-shore installations, doesn’t it?
NE: Yes, and this came about as a direct result of our lobbying. Manchester University now also runs maintenance courses, conducted by a member of the Institute’s Council.
SAM: Where would you like the Institute go in the future, what would you like it to do?
NE: I think that we need to define databases for maintenance. Focus on who owns what, data transition problems, needs for standardisation, etc. but also ensure that maintenance is much more related to the business and seen to be so, promoting the use of assets as a business resource.
SAM: A lot of these problems are also common to Australia. I notice that most of your members are from the private sector whereas in Australia, and also in New Zealand, interest in asset management has been taken up in the public sector and by a wide cross section of practitioners from finance to management to technical.
NE: Yes, that is of interest to us. We would like to widen and expand our membership base. We would also like to link with your organisation and asset management in Australia and New Zealand. In many ways it seems that you are ahead of us. We would welcome Australian members.
The Institute of Asset Management – now www.theiam.org
AMQ International: Strategic Asset Management Issue # 4, February 26, 1999