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An excellent adventure

Names & Faces - The launch of the Infrastructure Forum at Civils 2006 gives the industry the chance to share best practice across the sector, says its head Don Ward

If anyone is well qualified to bring about change in the world of infrastructure it is Don Ward. With over 20 years' experience in implementing change and best practice in the construction industry, having led Constructing Excellence (CE), the Design Build Foundation and the Construction Industry Board, at 42 Ward is a young old hand at the job.

Since 2005 Ward has been chief operating officer of Constructing Excellence and is about to lead a new arm of CE, the Infrastructure Forum. 'We consulted with our members, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and utilities and all of them said they would find value in some cross-sector benchmarking.

'We have been translating some of the really good supply chain initiatives from utilities into the housing and property sectors. We initially thought that perhaps infrastructure didn't need this too, but after consideration we realised that it does, ' he says.

The Infrastructure Forum, launched today at Civils 2006 (see News), is a body representing the entire supply chain from clients through to product suppliers and covers everyone in between.

Under Ward's guidance it will concentrate on sharing best practice and raising the profile of civil engineering, transport and utilities.

'The first 10 years of my career were spent working on low energy housing at the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

'I was a project officer and then head of the energy efficiency in housing best practice programme at the BRE, working for such clients as the Energy Efficiency Office, the European Commission and the Energy Saving Trust.' From here he moved into a more influential and strategic arena, using his experience to work with Sir Michael Latham.

'I became chief executive of the Construction Industry Board working with Sir Michael Latham and the UK industry's representative bodies and other stakeholders to implement the 1994 Latham Report, and latterly the 1998 Egan Report, ' he says.

He also chaired the working party that set up the Construction Best Practice Programme in 1998.

This experience, along with his involvement with the Movement for Innovation, Rethinking Construction, the Strategic Forum for Construction and the Department of Trade & Industry means that when it comes to sharing, imparting and influencing others, Ward clearly knows his stuff.

'The biggest challenge in this role is to deliver critical mass. I am anxious that we deliver value quickly.

There are organisations that exist as a lobby group or a charity and we realise that you need a business case to join up. We need to demonstrate that anyone joining up will find that it's money well spent.' To kick off, Ward is focusing on long-term strategic planning of transport and utilities, improving supply chain integration and procurement, and tackling skills shortages.

Should he solve those problems quickly there is not a soul in the industry who won't think it's money well spent.

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