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Runners up

Exceptionally strong competition for the Civil Engineering Manager of the Year award came from the three runners up who each gave presentations in Great George Street's Telford Theatre on Tuesday last week.

Simon Ohlenschlager was pitched into running Tilbury Douglas' pounds 25M a year plus extended arm contract for Thames Water Utilities EQUIP, effluent quality improvement process, with about 48 hours notice.

Winning the partnering agreement in early 1996 he had to build a 140 strong team of design and construction staff, then deliver a consistent improvement in waste water quality while at the same time giving his client year on year cost savings of at least 5%. This had to be balanced with Tilbury Douglas' aim of maintaining a consistent workload and profitable operation.

Treatment works to be looked after and upgraded ranged across many sites in the Thames basin around the west of London. Projects varied in size from small pounds 10,000 effluent clean up projects to schemes worth pounds 9M. Ohlenschlager successfully achieved the twin objectives while delivering 5.1% cost savings to his client in the first year and 11.5% in the second.

Douglas Oakervee was project director of one of the 20th century's most impressive engineering projects - Hong Kong's new international airport, taking up the post in 1991. It was created over the next seven years on a 1,248ha artificial platform built in the sea at Chek Lap Kok island, and opened to traffic last July.

International politics and finding the means of financing this huge new piece of infrastructure so that it could be delivered at all were as much part of Oakervee's job as engineering. Chek Lap Kok became a pawn in the complex and sensitive negotiations between the UK and China over the return of the territory to the Republic. With this in mind Oakervee split the project into a number of discrete blocks which could be taken forward to construction as soon as funds were released by HK's Legislative Council.

Oakervee took on lessons learned from Japan's Kansai offshore airport where major ground settlement prompted a huge preliminary dredging operation at Hong Kong - which only went ahead after a showdown with contractors. All initial bids for the work were thrown out as being too high and Oakervee had the job retendered.

One of the keys to managing the enormously complex project was to set up a system of regular whole project meetings to ensure that bad news would travel up to the top.

Roger Bayliss was also a client's manager in Hong Kong. He was in charge of HK Mass Transit Railway's contracts 502 and 501A for the Western Immersed Tube crossing of the harbour and the Central Subway which links the terminal station of the new airport railway with the existing station.

He was the only member of the client's team for the harbour crossing with immersed tunnel experience while the joint venture contractor Kumagai- Tarmac had built several. He identified external constraints as the major threat which needed his attention as a manager. A new road crossing tunnel was being built concurrently with the rail one using units cast in an adjacent construction basin and placed barely 250m away in the midst of one of the world's busiest shipping channels.

At Central he found himself in the role of peacemaker. The vast subway was threaded under one of HK Island's busiest main streets, which was packed with services, and literally through the foundations of some of its tallest buildings. Bayliss had to win over the co-operation of building owners who had bad experiences of MTR construction in the past.

Mike Winney

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