After eight and a half years at the helm of the European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA), General Secretary Phil Brickell has revealed to gasworld he is stepping down from the role.
With more than 30 years’ experience in the industrial gases industry, and extended periods in Asia, the US, Europe and the UK, Brickell joined EIGA in 2010 bringing with him a great deal of knowledge and understanding. The 59-year-old previously worked for BOC and Linde in a wide range of engineering, operations and safety roles.
“I have mixed feelings about leaving the role. It’s been a fascinating job and I leave with a lot of good, warm feelings but I’m ready and looking for a new challenge,” Brickell told gasworld when we spoke with him at EIGA’s 2018 Winter Seminar in Brussels in January. “I’ve been in the role for more than eight years and it really is a great role, it’s a unique role in the industry and one I’ve been privileged to have.”
EIGA is an international non-profit association (AISBL), governed by the Belgium law on non-profit associations. It has a President and a Board of Directors, which constitutes the governing body. The EIGA office deals with legal, financial and administrative matters and supports all technical and safety work.
Under the supervision of the Board, the Industrial Gases Council (IGC), the Medical Gases Council (MGC), the Regulatory Environment Council (REC) and the Safety Advisory Council (SAC) direct the activities of the various working groups in their respective fields of expertise and to co-ordinate and implement EIGA’s policies, activities and objectives. The decisions of the Board are sanctioned by the members at its Annual General Meeting (AGM).
EIGA is financed primarily by annual subscription fees from the members and it also receives some additional income from participation fees for its special events such as the Seminar. Membership is comprised of 136 active member companies and 25 national industrial gases associations. All of its active member companies are producers or distributors of industrial gases, medical gases or carbon dioxide.
“The role of General Secretary is the CEO of the association,” Brickell explained, “And that means I get to work with all our industrial and medical gas companies, their Senior Board Members and their Senior Managers to work out EIGA’s strategy and identify what EIGA should be doing to support the industry. I also get to work with our experts – we have over 250 unique individuals working in our work groups, and we have 200 meetings a year developing guidance for the industry. It’s been a great way of keeping me in contact with what’s happening in the industry.”
EIGA’s mission is to maintain the highest standards of safety and concern for the environment, to provide authorities and standardisation bodies with expert advice on the production, transport, storage and applications of industrial, medical and food gases – and to promote the consistency of safety, health, environmental and technical standards throughout the industry.
“Therefore, reviewing incidents, identifying their causes and then providing guidance on what standards and systems and safety culture companies should have in place to prevent their recurrence or minimise their consequences, remains at the top of our agenda,” Brickell said.
“You may have a piece of legislation that’s aimed at a different industry or sector, but it impacts us and we have to look for that and that’s something that has really changed…”
When asked what EIGA was like when he first joined compared to what it’s like now, Brickell replied, “The fundamental core reason for EIGA being here has not changed – it’s about bringing companies together, bringing the industry together, sharing that knowledge on how to improve safety, environmental care and technology and then sharing that throughout the membership. That has not changed. What I think has changed is the scale. In 2009/2010 we probably had about 25 groups who came together and I found a figure from the late 90’s which said we used to have 56 meetings a year. We now have 50 groups and 200 meetings!”
Brickell went on to say this is a reflection of what’s happening in the industry and one of the biggest single areas which he thinks has changed is that of regulation and the approach EIGA has to take. “If you go back 10 years, EIGA could give expert advice to the commission. Now we’ve learnt that you can’t just do that you’ve got to pre-empt legislation and regulations, you’ve got to take your position not just to the Commission but to the Council, and the Parliament – the MEPs. So, our resource and investment in advocacy work has gone up five-fold in the last eight years.”
“That’s a reflection of the number of items of legislation that have been coming through the EU, although this has slowed down a little in recent years. It’s having to look all the time at where we might sustain collateral damage. You may have a piece of legislation that’s aimed at a different industry or a different sector, but it impacts us and we have to look for that and that’s something that has really changed over the years.”
With too many favourite memories to choose from, Brickell said something he was particularly proud of was the harmonisation work EIGA does. “We collaborate very well with our sister regional associations in Asia, Japan and the US and meet on a regular basis (twice per year) as the International Harmonisation Council (IHC) to manage the development of global harmonised industry publications. I’ve got some great personal experiences from doing that. Seeing different parts of the world and seeing how the same challenges are affecting different regions at different times. Aside from that I think seeing people’s reactions every time we run an event such as the winter seminar, which takes a lot of planning over the course of the year, when it comes to fruition just to see people networking, talking and discussing and you know they’re talking about the seminar topics – that’s a great memory and a great reward for us,” he highlighted.
Concluding, Brickell said, “I don’t know what’s next for me, I’m certainly far too young to retire! I’m looking for another opportunity within the industry so watch this space. Clearly there’s a lot of changes going on in the industry and I hope I can find somewhere to carry on contributing.”
“My replacement, effective 1st October, is Philippe Cornille. Philippe joins EIGA from essenscia, the Belgian Federation for Chemistry and Life Sciences where he has been Manager for the Industrial and Medical Gases Sector within essenscia and Secretary General of the Belgian Lubricants Association. I wish him well.”