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Profile - The day the earth moved

ICE news - Working lives Roger Bayliss has come back to the UK after 12 years in Hong Kong to take on the role of group construction director for BAA.

Roger Bayliss's civil engineering career started in the traditional way, though maybe a bit more exotic than most. Aged 10 he was in Malawi where his father was working for the Colonial Office, when the family went on a trip up Mount Zomba to visit a dam site. One look at all the earthmoving machinery and Bayliss was hooked.

He was educated in the UK, studied for an MA in Engineering Sciences at Cambridge and then went to work for Costain, mainly because it was an international contractor and Bayliss, like so many young engineers, wanted to work abroad.

'So they sent me to Wales, ' he says with irony. 'I really enjoyed it, particularly as it allowed me to get involved in Britain's first immersed tube tunnel for the Conwy crossing.' Bayliss was project manager for the scheme.

'And because it was a first we had to pull in a lot of overseas expertise which gave me experience of managing an international team, ' he says.

'That was what took me to Hong Kong, ' he continues.

'Costain was involved in a bid for the immersed tube Western Harbour Crossing - which was unsuccessful. But while I was in Hong Kong I had discussions with the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) who asked if I'd look after its immersed tube for the airport railway.'

Bayliss recognised that this was a huge opportunity. 'Hong Kong was a great place to be in the early 90s. The airport core programme was just starting and I wanted to give my family - wife Maureen and children Stephanie and James - a life changing experience.

'I thought we'd be there three years to see out the immersed tube but the day I arrived I was also given the central subway to manage.

That was a fabulous job, a real technical challenge; to thread a 270m long pedestrian subway through the foundation piles of Exchange Square.'

That led to job of section project manager for MTRC's Tseung Kwan O extension and latterly construction of the Tung Chung cable car link to one of Hong Kong's big tourist sites.

When BAA group technical director Richard Petrie approached Bayliss, now 47, to come and help him manage the £4bn non-T5 airport programme over the next 10 years, Bayliss was ready for a move.

'Hong Kong is in a cyclical downturn and what BAA offered was a new dimension;

an opportunity to join a new team with a strong agenda of improving even further what BAA has already delivered. With the growth of low cost airlines there's huge expectation from the travelling public for more for less' Bayliss was also attracted by the BAA offer because what he views as his big success in Hong Kong was the introduction of partnering to MTRC - after a visit to BAA in 1998 to see how it worked.

His advice to engineers starting their careers with big dreams is to think about where they want to be in 10 years. 'Have a plan;

you might not get there on schedule but don't drift, ' he says.

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