Statements from our President & Chair

Pipeline Industries Guild President: Jon Butterworth - Chief Executive Officer, National Grid Gas Transmission and Metering


Jon Butterworth presidential address for Pipeline Industries Guild, January 2024

A warm welcome to everyone involved in the Pipeline Industries Guild, and to anyone with an interest in the critical work the Guild does.  

Our role underpins the fabric not only of business and family life - but of society as a whole. Together, we create and maintain essential infrastructure, keep the lights on, the water flowing and warming homes across the country.

As I enter the second year of my term of office, it continues to be a tremendous honour for me to serve as the 31st President of our Guild, building on the legacy of past presidents stretching back over 60 years. I am just as proud and excited to represent this heroic profession today, as I was when I began my presidency – and I am more committed than ever to continuing to amplify your voices at this important and challenging time.

As members of the Guild, you deserve acknowledgment and respect: the infrastructure of our towns and cities - and so much more - is down to the toil of Guild members. Whether developing new infrastructure or focussing on the vital work of maintaining Britain’s networks, every project underpins our social foundations and the ability to grow our economy.  However, to maintain this essential role, we need to attract more young people into our industry: they are quite simply the future of our profession.

It's an inconvenient but continuing truth, recently quantified by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, that the UK now needs to attract more than 173,000 new people into the sector to have a hope of meeting our own future society's needs. That is before we even think about sustaining and improving our own international competitiveness.

The Institution cited an average of 10 unfilled roles per business in the UK and said 49% of engineering businesses are experiencing difficulties recruiting workers with the skills they need. While I know that many of you are playing your part in equipping young minds and developing our future leaders – there will always be more for us to do.

It is clear to see why the Guild is central to the UK economy – now more than ever. As a country we need to develop the long-term view which will enable us to meet the Government's net zero ambitions. In the water sector, for example, we need to think again about whether infrastructure stretching back into the 19th Century can continue to provide for a future of extremes in summer scarcity and winter flooding, as global warming becomes a reality. While, in my own sector, gas, we have the Herculean programme ahead of us to deliver the repurposing of the entire network to run on a different, low-carbon fuel - hydrogen.

Throughout my term of office, I have been, and continue to be, impressed by the passion, innovation, teamwork and sense of ownership among all our members.  

I continue to be exceptionally proud to be your President, and thank you all for your valuable contribution to our essential collective mission.


Pipeline Industries Guild Chair: Rachel Bridge - Partner, Fisher German

I’m delighted to have been elected as Chair by the members. I was first introduced to the Guild in 2007 during my time as a placement student at Fisher German, I entered the Sir John Parker competition during the same year.  After graduating, I joined the Midlands Branch of the Guild, taking on the active role on the committee as Secretary in 2017 progressing to DC2 the following year.  I was later nominated to become Chair of the Midlands Branch and faced the challenge of maintaining a vibrant committee throughout COVID-19 whilst delivering some excellent technical events.

As a Partner at Fisher German and during my time with the consultancy, I have led several major projects including the property management and asset protection of 2,500km of high-pressure oil pipelines, as well as being responsible for the property management of a 2,000km fibre optic cable network.

To be the Chair of the Guild at such a pivotal time when we need to embrace and deliver on the Net Zero challenges but also manage the security and supply of our essential energy and water and waste water networks, to be involved at such an exciting time is a real honour. Through the technical panels and our Branches the Guild can contribute positively to the roll-out of key infrastructure through expertise, knowledge sharing and innovation.

Through the continued promotion of the utilities and infrastructure sector, it is vital to ensure the industry does not miss out on recruiting talented individuals especially when the pipeline industry is facing several challenges, particularly in recruitment. One of my aims for the next 12 months is to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion within the sector putting the Guild at the heart of the discussion for sustainable and secure energy and increasing its work with universities and other educational establishments to recruit the best talent into this sector and highlight that our industry is for everyone is something I’d like to continue in my role as Chair.

I also hope to encourage people from all backgrounds into the Guild  and enable individuals and companies to build their networks, and improve the industry. With a renewed focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion I see recruiting the best into the infrastructure sector as a crucial element for the industry to flourish.