Feb 9, 2023 / by IQ News Update

An interview between three IQ Presidents

Educating relevance - Blog Header 3

In a wide-ranging and enjoyable conversation with Aggregates Business editor Guy Woodford, new Institute of Quarrying (IQ) president Viv Russell and his two predecessors, Martin Riley and Phil Redmond discuss the UK mineral products industry’s big next-generation education challenge, the importance of the IQ in addressing it and other key industry issues, and what serving as IQ president has meant to them.


Viv Russell, Martin Riley and Phil Redmond are unanimous when asked about the biggest topics within the UK mineral products industry and the IQ: equipping a new generation of mineral products professionals with the skills needed in a more digitalised and automated industry and how the IQ can stay relevant in a rapidly developing technological and sustainability-minded age.

“I feel very passionate about education. We must have a route for future talent to enter our industry, whether that’s inspiring six-year-olds in geology or inspiring 50-year-olds to come back into the industry and retrain,” says Russell. “There are many great careers in the mineral products sector, and we must not, as perhaps we have done over the years, shy away from telling people all the great things we do.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with a lot of industry people. That’s not just managers; it’s shovel drivers and other key site workers. One of the things I have set myself a target of doing as IQ president is a kind of Talking Voices project going around meeting young people in the industry and recording their aspirations, and meeting industry people who have retired. I want the branches of IQ to do this as well. The construction industry has been very good at doing this, including when they built the M1 and for other major big infrastructure projects.”


According to Mineral Products Association (MPA) figures, around 81,000 people work in the UK mineral products industry. Riley says that the IQ and the wider industry recognise the importance of having a highly educated and professional workforce, with hundreds of students having successfully completed prized mineral products industry-standard, globally recognised qualifications at the University of Derby’s Centre for Mineral Products (C4MP).

Based at the University of Derby’s Enterprise Centre, the C4MP offers study programmes and qualifications across five focus areas: Mineral Extraction (Quarries); Asphalt and Pavements (Road Construction); Concrete; Cement; and Heavy Clay (Brick & Pipe Manufacturing). 

In partnership with the Institute of Quarrying, the Institute of Asphalt Technology (IAT), The Concrete Society, the International Clay Technology Association, and the Road Surface Treatments Association, the Centre currently offers 17 qualifications. These include a Bachelor of Science Honours degree (BSc Hons) in Minerals Management and Foundation Science degrees (FdSc) in Mineral Extractives Technology, Asphalt and Pavement Technology, Clay Technology, Concrete Technology, and Cement Technology. 

The C4MP also offers a Higher Apprenticeship (Mineral Products Technician), university diplomas in Mineral Extractive Studies, Asphalt and Pavement Studies, Road Surface Treatments, Clay Studies, Concrete Studies, and Cement Studies. A University Certificate can also be taken in Concrete Technology, Construction Materials, and Ready-Mixed Concrete Technology and Clay Drying and Firing.


An interview with three IQ Presidents Martin Riley - Blog Image“The technical material for the course qualifications is prepared by the IQ and IAT; the lectures are based on this technical material that the IQ and IAT prepare. A great deal of time and effort is placed on keeping this course material relevant and up to date. All of the Centre’s lecturers are time served in the industry. We have professional education being delivered to our young people by those that have earned their stripes in the industry,” explains Martin Riley, CRH’s senior vice president of Climate Performance and a former longstanding Tarmac and Tilcon (CRH) senior executive.

“The IQ has encouraged more experienced people to stay in the industry via their lecturing work at the Centre for Mineral Products. We should look to encourage more members to become part-time lecturers. IQ board members have also attended study days at the university to pass on their experiences.”

Riley has his own early career memories of the importance of UK mineral products industry mentors. “When I started in the industry in 1984, I remember IQ leaders desperate to share their experience with youngsters like myself coming through. I have had the benefit of industry leaders like Viv [Russell] alongside me to assist me throughout my career, helping with a lot of the issues that we face.

“I remember walking up the stairs in the [old] IQ headquarters and seeing the ‘Hall of Fame’ of past IQ presidents. On the wall were many of my previous company CEOs and industry leaders, and when I became IQ president, I was thinking, ‘Crikey. That’s now me!’”

Adding to Riley’s comments on the importance of having highly experienced industry professionals lecturing at The University of Derby’s C4MP, Russell says: ”It is a way of giving back. A lot of experienced industry people may lecture for nothing. They are full of what you might call industry ‘war stories’ that include vital knowledge and wisdom to pass on to younger industry people.”


Educating relevance Phil Redmond - Blog HeaderPhil Redmond (Heidelberg Materials senior vice president and head of Global & North America competence center aggregates and asphalt (CCA)) served as IQ president from 2018 to 2020. Currently, a Texas, USA-based Heidelberg Materials senior vice president and head of Global & North America competence center aggregates and asphalt (CCA), Redmond’s vast quarrying industry experience includes senior executive roles at Lehigh Hanson in the US and Hanson Aggregates in the UK.

Speaking about what being IQ president meant to him, he says: “I got more out of being a member of the IQ than I will likely ever be able to put back. It was an honour to help shape the Institute’s future and work with highly experienced people who knew where we were coming from and had a clear vision of where we were going. Over the last six to eight years, there have been massive changes in how IQ looks at things and what we needed to do for our members to give them the best chance of thriving in a modernised industry.

“It was an exciting time during my years as IQ president. The two presidents before me had done some really transformational work. The way we were positively looking at technology was important, and we launched the IQ Skills Wheel, which members could use in a technical working environment. 

“As a global Institute, we had become a bit fragmented, and some of our relationships with our Australian, New Zealand and South African counterparts had become a little strained. They may have seen the way the IQ operated in the UK as a little old-fashioned and controlling. I came in as president on the back of what James (Thorne, chief executive of IQ) wanted to do to bring us all closer together. Miles [Watkins, IQ president 2016-2018, and chairman 2012-2016] had started that work before me, bringing all the IQ branches together as a global organisation. We carry the baton as IQ presidents, building on the work that was previously done.”

IQ Announces New President Viv Russell - Article Header-1As well as his IQ presidency role taken up in October 2022 after Martin Riley completed his two-year tenure, Viv Russell is chief executive of the Mineral Products Qualifications Council (MPQC). The former Tarmac senior executive and Longcliffe Group managing director was also chair of QNJAC (Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee – focused on promoting health and safety in all sectors of the quarrying and associated industries) for four years until October 2022.

“I have been in the [quarrying] industry for 46 years, from the day after my sixteenth birthday. I have engaged with the IQ since the late 1970s, attending meetings. I was at meetings in the early 1980s while doing my DAPS (Doncaster Assisted Private Study) course and became an IQ member in 1984. As well as being honoured to be president of the IQ, I feel honoured to have been in an industry that has educated me and given me a very good living and many friends.”

Russell notes that one of his key tasks as IQ president will be ensuring the professional body continues to develop and progress its plans for the creation of a brand-new international Centre of Excellence for the mineral products industry at the National Stone Centre, in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, following the Institute’s merger with the visitor attraction in 2021.


The relocation of the IQ headquarters from Chilwell, Nottingham, to the NSC will enable the 3,200 UK and the additional 1,900 -global-member-strong organisation to better support and connect its members through a wide range of key activities, such as seminars, conferences, branch meetings, study tours, and even a National Archives facility for the minerals and quarrying sector. 

As he previously highlighted to Aggregates Business on taking up the IQ presidency, Russell believes the new Centre of Excellence also provides an ideal base to visibly demonstrate the powerful story of the minerals and quarrying sector, how it has evolved through its history to the high standards it operates today, and the crucial contribution it makes to help train and educate the industry’s next generation of mineral products professionals.  

“We need to move the project forward and ensure the new building we seek planning permission for actually happens,” emphasises Russell. “We are hoping to hear a positive result on our planning application around April, and that will be when the serious fundraising side of the project starts. It is a lifetime opportunity for the industry, and great to have it taking shape during my reign [as IQ president].”

Returning to the theme of creating a more united IQ and wider mineral products industry, Riley says: “During my IQ presidency, our key focus was to promote greater collaboration between IQ, the Mineral Products Qualification Council (MPQC), The Mineral Products Association (MPA) and QNJAC (Quarries National Joint Advisory Committee). We knew we would achieve more as an industry by playing to our strengths and committed to making the industry a safer place through the raising of training standards and competence.”

Riley adds that with Russell’s assistance, the IQ’s relationship with QNJAC is in a “good place”, with the Institute also having “very good conversations” with HSE. He notes that the health and safety agendas of the IQ, QNJAC and MPA are now joined in highlighting ‘The Fatal 6’ causes of industry workplace fatalities, serious injuries and ill health: Contact with moving machinery and isolation; Workplace transport and pedestrian interface; Work at height; Workplace Respirable Crystalline Silica; Struck by moving or falling object; Road Traffic Accidents.


“I think James (Thorne, IQ chief executive] has also been a massive influence in moving the collaboration agenda forward, as we agreed when I started my IQ presidency term,” continues Riley. “Viv will be taking things forward now with our new home at the National Stone Centre, where we can physically and virtually explain to people what the industry and IQ do. We will also, in time, develop our own core industry training modules that we can offer quarry managers.

“We need to be seen by the UK Government as a key sector in our own right. We are now one of the largest employers in the UK manufacturing sector. We need to continue the dialogue with Government bodies to help promote the minerals sector and the skills and careers we can offer.”

Focusing again on the work of IQ presidents and when asked if he had any advice for Martin Riley when he succeeded him as president in 2020, Phil Redmond says: “We never work like that in the IQ. The way the Institute is set up with the vice chair and chair, it is a six-year gig when you include your term as president. The plan that is agreed upon is passed on. It is a case of saying to whoever is president, ‘If you ever need anything, you know where we are.’ There are no surprises when you become IQ president.

“We are all very well known to each other in this industry. We trained in the same colleges, worked under the same managers, and had the same good industry experiences. We all know what we are trying to do to push the industry forward.”

“What we agreed when Phil became president was that the former president would stay on the board for another year,” adds Riley. “So, it became a seven-year IQ board service stint. I had the benefit of three years as vice chair and then worked with Viv [Russell] as chair before becoming president. I still had Phil helping me, ensuring the IQ’s agenda and vision stayed on course. This allows us to target and deliver long-term sustainable change.”

“It gives some valuable signposting,” says Russell. “What you find as president is that you know where the signposts are. How fast or slowly you want to walk to them, you gauge in the role.”

Riley notes the valuable work of Sarah Fry, the IQ’s head of membership and marketing. “Without Sarah’s communications and marketing work, we can talk forever, but unless it finds its way to our audience in the right way, it is wasted. The way we are putting our message across, with Sarah’s help, is very effective.”


“The challenge for me is to make sure we [the IQ] retain relevance,” says Russell. “The role Martin has moved into [at CRH] is sustainability. And one of the jokes I have with James {Thorne] is that I’m president of the Institute of Quarrying. I don’t like talking about quarrying very much nowadays because there are so many other great things we do that are very relevant for today’s society, like sustainability, quarry restoration, encouraging diversity in the industry, and the pathways to self-improvement. We need to have that relevance in the modern world – and the number one challenge is securing that future industry talent.”

Redmond adds: “Attracting and maintaining that talent will come from appealing to a younger generation that is looking through a sustainability lens. If we don’t take that on board, that talent is not going to come to us. We need to give them everything they need as an industry to manage those sustainability challenges.”

“Again, Sarah [Fry] has been at the forefront of showing how the face of the IQ is changing,” continues Riley. “We have now got Mineral Matters [a minerals industry organisations’ and employers’ supported resource for young people and adults thinking about career options] showcasing the young managers coming through in our sector and the importance of them talking about the career opportunities that they have seen, whether that’s surveying, geology, technical, commercial or operational work. We are living in a digital world, and many of those young managers have spent three years in a technical college. They have been professionally trained and mentored and are now using leading-edge digital platforms.

I think we have got smarter as an industry and way better at attracting talent to our industry. It is important that our future leaders share their career stories - we are getting that now with our Minerals Matters advocates. At Hillhead [2022], we had some of our future leaders talking to groups of school pupils about why the industry is attractive and what has drawn them to it. We have twinned with the IAT, and they are making similar great strides in this. We are sharing experiences and common pathways.”

“The IAT is a good example of this collaborative approach, as its modern apprenticeships have been designed and are being delivered by the MPQC,” adds Russell. “That’s come about via the collaboration between the IQ and IAT.”

“We have a proven track record of delivery [on professional industry education and standards] and the confidence of industry regulators that what we say we will do, we do. That goes a long way,” concludes Riley.

This article first appeared on the Aggregates Business Magazine Website, available at aggbusiness.com


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