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Leader of the pack

ICE news - Leadership was the outstanding quality demonstrated by this year's winner of the ICE's Civil Engineering Manager of the Year. But it was not easy deciding between very diverse candidates, said the judges.

GLEESON CONTRACT manager Richard Green edged his way ahead of the field for his personal contribution to the success of the complex and demanding Chingford surface water treatment works. This £30.9M ($54.4M) project for Thames Water delivered treated water just 12 months from start of construction, five weeks ahead of programme. Green attributes Chingford's success to 'an exceptional team spirit': the judges concluded this team spirit was directly attributable to Green's motivational leadership.

'It was very, very close this year, ' reports judging team member Mike Robbins, Laing O'Rourke infrastructure business leader. 'Choosing a winner was very difficult. But at Chingford there were huge time pressures and coping with these needed real leadership.' Green has been with Gleeson since spending a year as an industrial trainee with the contractor during his degree course at the University of Surrey. After graduating in 1988 he flirted briefly with roads and bridges before 'following Gleeson into the water sector'.

'I've never developed wanderlust. My employer has kept me busy and occupied, and always found me new challenges and exciting projects, ' he adds.

Nevertheless, the last 15 years have exposed Green to a wide range of responsibilities right across the UK. Currently he works within Gleeson's Trident West Alliance with Thames Water, a partnership which has successfully delivered over £220M ($387M) worth of projects during the last five year investment period, and which will be forging ahead with more projects during the next.

Green was personally involved with 17 projects besides Chingford, taking them from feasibility right through to commissioning.

He also co-ordinated a Gleeson project management team that delivered a multidiscipline multi-site programme of work within a £2M ($3.52M) flow monitoring programme cover ng 41 individual sites across the Thames Water Provinces region.

His track record includes raw water abstraction and all stages of water treatment, and sewage treatment from works inlet to final discharge. Green says his most exciting project pre-Chingford was in Jersey in the early 1990s.

'It was really fantastic, a major civil engineering challenge.

Jersey needed a new reservoir urgently as it was running out of water. Unfortunately the original contractor went bust.

'I went in with a small Gleeson team and took over the junior management on the site. It all went very well in the end.' However, he says the job that gave him the most personal satisfaction was much smaller. 'It was only just over £300,000 ($528,000). But when I took it over I soon realised that the original budget just wasn't viable. I had to completely rejig it, which was very satisfying when it all worked out.' Skills developed on projects like these turned out to be absolutely vital on the Chingford project. Thames Water's first new surface water treatment plant for 13 years had demanding logistics and a highly restricted site. Apart from leadership, Green says the project needed 'extremely detailed programme planning and intensive management of the supply chain'.

Chingford will be up for a number of other awards, not least NCE's own British Construction Industry Awards next year. Green says that preparing and delivering the presentations for these awards has been an interesting and challenging experience.

'Thames is very keen to maximise the potential of the Chingford success story, ' he adds.

At the moment Green does not yet know what the future post-Chingford will hold for him once the project is settled up. But he remains optimistic, especially since his victory in this year's competition.

'Obviously, winning CEMYA has increased my own profile within Gleeson. You have to take advantage of the opportunities offered by 'once in a career' projects like Chingford, ' he says.

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