We want 50% of the global cement production represented among our members

Cement and its Applications interviews GCCA Chief Executive Benjamin Sporton after GCCA's London Symposium in 2018.

What are the perspectives of the association in terms of directions and in terms of time planning? Are you planning to extend the board of directors to include new members? How far does your planning go?

The way the organization is structured is that we’ve got membership for companies, and then we have 15 members of the Board of Directors. They are elected for two-year terms. And so this morning we’ve had the AGM, so we elected those directors to our Board this morning. They’ll serve their terms for two years. But the way that we all work at the GCCA is that we want to take the expertise of all of our member companies, and in fact the affiliate national regions associations as well, and utilize that expertise in our work program. So actually the work program that we presented today… we’ll have working groups for each of those six work stream items, and then they are given to all members of the Association or affiliates to the Association. So what I expect will happen next week or in two or three weeks is that we’ll get invitations out there and start actually working out who is to chair this work program, who is going to be a member of the work program. So that’s what we are going to do right in the next couple of weeks. And then each of those has a board sponsor. That’s exactly what will happen as well. So quite an exciting, extensive work program that the Board will oversee but the work will be done by the working groups. We are now about 32 member companies and 9 affiliate member associations that represent about 35 percent of the global cement production. So we want to continue to expand our membership further, particularly in the emerging economies but elsewhere as well so we’ll keep working hard on that. To me, you know, this is probably, at least the way you look at it, is a 5-year project. I think the work program that we have established is for 2019 and beyond, but I think really now that we’ve got the organization set up we’ve got to set out three strategic objectives of the organization, which are concrete positioning, innovation, and sustainability. I really want to spend some time over the next three months sitting down one to one with our member companies, and see those developing a strategic plan, thinking about where do we want this association and this industry to be in 5 years’ time, and what can I and the staff of the GCCA do to help it happen. That’s a sort of 5-year plan to have that strategic plan to get there at some point. We may approve that plan in the middle of next year, or something like that. So that’s sort of the way we are taking that work 

Is any producer around the globe eligible to become a part of the association? How do you attract new members to GCCA?

Any clinker producer or producer of cementitious material is eligible to join the GCCA. And then any national or regional association that shares the philosophy of the GCCA is able to join us as an affiliate as well. I think it is very important for any industry to be strong in representing a good proportion of the industry. Just as Albert said, we want to get 50 percent of the global cement production within our membership. And so one of my major tasks over the next 12 months is to go out there and visit those companies which are not yet members of the GCCA, talk to them about what our mission is, our vision is, and talk about the benefits of joining an association like the GCCA. So we’ve brought in the cement sustainability initiative to the GCCA. I think that is a fantastic way of demonstrating value to potential members: what they can learn from other members, what they can do in terms of sustainability. So that is just one aspect. But we’ll do that sort of work promoting concrete, promoting the end product that comes out of cement making. I think that really helps demonstrate the values of the GCCA as well. So this is some of the work we’ll be doing over the next 6 to 12 months.

Does being a member of some national association mean that a cement producer would automatically become a member of the GCCA?

Now, you’d better apply directly apply to us as a company to join. So if you are a producer somewhere, and you are a member of the national body, and that body is a member of the GCCA, that does not mean that you are. You’ve got to apply directly.

What are your relations with national associations? And how would you deal with the national governments?

The national regional associations have done fantastic and very important work over decades, and it would be absolutely pointless for the GCCA to try and replicate that, or to struggle with those, or to do anything like that. We need to collaborate with them, leverage an awful good job they have done and take that to the international level. So my mandate is not to go and talk to national governments on national policy issues. My mandate is not to go to the European Union on the European policy issues. My mandate is to talk at the international level: so at the UN, development banks, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs. That’s where we are all going to talk to those international organizations. Now that means that you interact with national governments but where we do, we do that in partnership with the national and regional associations. We’ve also just established today through the approval of the Board, what we called the Partnerships Council, and that is bringing together the GCCA, CEMBUREAU (European Cement Association), PCA in the US, FICEM (Federación Interamericana del Cemento) in Latin America, a range of other national associations who joined already as affiliates to the GCCA. In fact, we’ll be meeting later on this afternoon as well just to talk about how we cooperate, collaborate, work together effectively on behalf of the industry because we’re all bodies over here to represent the industry. So we need to work together to do that effectively.

How would you like to deliver information to the cement professionals from the world’s local markets?

We’re obviously developing our communications and outreach programs so that it is going to be an important part of the work that we do: talking to industry magazines, industry publications, industry journals. We have two fantastic technical experts on our staff. So we are going to be very open, we are always talking to people. And we’ll be sending out information, and we are very happy you’ve come to us.

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