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Identifying good leadership skills upfront will be key to delivering great infrastructure

Alasdair Reisner

There can be little doubt that the outlook for the infrastructure sector is looking more positive than it has for many years.

There can be little doubt that the outlook for the infrastructure sector is looking more positive than it has for many years.

A combination of political unanimity on the need to grow the economy and the necessity of dealing with some of our future energy and transportation challenges have created momentum around a wave of investment in our networks.

Yet there is no blank cheque here. If this bold future of investment is to be realised, it must do so within the confines of increasingly tight finances. With both regulators and the Exchequer taking growing interest in the bottom line for projects, it is vital that the focus on efficiency that has strengthened during the downturn is maintained. Indeed we must work even harder to secure better value for our customers.

Extracting this value will rely upon a supply chain that is ready for the challenge. It will mean greater collaboration, stronger leadership, improved sustainability and safer construction while also calling for those involved in delivery to get to grips with new technologies and ways of doing business.

Yet many suppliers report challenges in meeting these requirements. While the desire to be aligned with their customers is there, it is difficult to achieve this alignment when being asked to hit range of different targets to work for different organisations.

And as suppliers emerge from a downturn that has put enormous pressure on finances, companies cannot simply invest in a scattergun manner to meet these demands. They are looking for consistency around key requirements. Support to meet these standards would also be welcome.

This is the context in which the Infrastructure Leadership Programme has been created. It is intended to identify, for the first time, what the key competences will be for the companies that will deliver this bold vision for the UK’s future infrastructure. By speaking to customers, main contractors and supply chain organisations we hope to define what good looks like. But more importantly, we hope that this will form the basis of a programme of low and no-cost training to ensure that any company who wants to play a part in this future has the tools at its disposal to do so.  

Readers' comments (1)

  • Unfortunately the very training process we have adopted for our engineers (future leaders) seems to have created a couple of generations of risk adverse engineers with little understanding of the construction process whilst relatively small projects have become big projects; with few exceptions such as Crossrail we don't do big and when we do we fail to learn the mistakes of history. Had we bought 10m of extra land when we originally built our motorways it would have saved billions in direct and indirect money for subsequent widening works. HST is about to repeat that folly , a project whose design life will transition the end of oil, and has no local or freight line and as such has no long term benefit to the population along its route or at the very least provision to provide it at low cost and the ability to increase capacity at low cost. The engineers leaders we need are busy building large schemes for other people across the world. Suppliers, contractor and client need to have leadership they trust but it is difficult to see this issue being fixed by a training program.

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