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Goal scorers

Halcrow's staff has grown from 4,000 to over 5,700 in three years, with most of that growth organic.And, at 9%, employee turnover is well below the industry average.

Halcrow's rapid growth means that the firm needs experienced professionals who can lead projects and teams.

'We need people who can bring more to the table than just engineering or technical skills - who can handle business development, client relationship management and leadership roles, ' explains human resources director Mandy Clarke. 'People with this broad range of ability are in short supply.' Clarke is aware that all the leading consultants are battling for the same group of people, but she believes Halcrow has more to offer than much of the competition.

'What people are seeing with Halcrow is an organisation with a very good pedigree and reputation in the market, and one that is evolving into a very exciting and dynamic, industryleading business, ' she says.

'The fact that we're growing and changing means we can give people responsibility that they might not be getting as soon elsewhere, and give them the chance to realise their ambitions. We don't take them for granted.

'Halcrow is somewhere they can make an impact, where there are fresh challenges and they're not doing the same thing over and over again. All our staff must be able to adapt. There's no point in coming to Halcrow if you just want a nine to five job with a clearly defined job description, and some people will find that difficult. No two days are the same.' Clarke believes Halcrow is different from other consultants in the value it places on non-engineering skills. The company's way of doing business - often through long-term relationships and partnership arrangements - places emphasis on 'softer' skills such as personal effectiveness and leadership skills. 'Clients take technical knowledge in consultants and contractors as given, ' says Clarke. 'Now it's more about issues like can we work together- Is there synergy between us- It's more about the relationship side and the people they're going to work with.' She believes that even technical specialists need good communication skills.

'There's no point in being a technical specialist unless you can impart information to other people, ' she says.

'A technical leader to me is someone who is creative and innovative, who understands how to relate to other areas of the construction process and understands the client's business.

'We need diversity within our organisation, which comes by people bringing different skills into Halcrow that enable us to go forward with excellent project work and really good relationships with clients, as well as trying to achieve our business objectives, ' she adds. 'It is particularly important that we have people who understand and are aware of business issues. Our clients are in a tough business environment. If we understand their needs we can provide better services and face the challenges together.' Whatever skills they might bring, Clarke says potential staff must be conscientious, committed and accountable - both on project work and in their interaction with other people. 'Accountability is lacking in our industry, ' she says. 'We encourage people to have productive relationships with others and to be open and honest with clients when things go wrong.' Halcrow offers support and training to help develop nontechnical skills. When it comes to motivating staff or dealing with team of people that can't work together most engineers typically stick their head in the sand, says Clarke. 'But if it's your team you have to be able to deal with these issues and know you have the support mechanisms available.'

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