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15 people to watch in 2018

Construction is an industry full of characters – these are the 15 people to keep an eye on in 2018.

Sherin Aminossehe, head of offices, Lendlease

sherin aminossehe 061

sherin aminossehe 061

In one of the more interesting appointments of 2017, Sherin Aminossehe left her role as chief operating officer of the Government Property Unit to head up Lendlease’s commercial business.

Ms Aminossehe developed a strong reputation for her work at the GPU and she will now oversee some huge regeneration projects, including the £2.4bn International Quarter London on the Olympic Park.

With experience in the private sector as vice-president at architecture practice Hok, she will look to hit the ground running.

Rob Brighouse, managing director, East West Rail

rob bridghouse tidal lagoon power

rob bridghouse tidal lagoon power

The launch of East West Rail in late 2016 was seen as a break from the norm in rail project delivery: a new-build project that will be run completely independently of Network Rail.

A few months later, former Chiltern Railways managing director Rob Brighouse was tasked with leading it.

The project, which could be worth up to £2bn, is now in motion, with Mr Brighouse currently considering procurement options. A design, build, finance, maintain and possibly operate model has been mooted.

Next year will see those plans firmed up, providing an insight not only into how the line from Oxford to Cambridge might be delivered but future rail projects as well.

Mark Davey, chief executive, Kaicer Building Envelope Solutions

Mark Davey Lakesmere

Mark Davey Lakesmere

Lakesmere shocked the construction industry in November when the £119m-turnover company fell into administration, with dozens of staff laid off and subcontractors left unpaid.

Mark Davey, the man who founded Lakesmere in 1993, expressed “deep sadness” over the decline of the company he sold two years ago in a management buyout.

It wasn’t long before Mr Davey revived the business though, keeping the old Lakesmere branding but using a new name: Kaicer. He’s taken on some of Lakesmere’s contracts, including Crossrail jobs, so the industry will be watching Kaicer’s movements closely to see if Mr Davey can build a strong building envelope brand again.

Andrew Davies, incoming chief executive, Carillion

Andrew Davies chief executive Carillion 1

Andrew Davies chief executive Carillion 1

Andrew Davies did a good job as chief executive of Wates, leading the company to be named Contractor of the Year at 2017’s Construction News Awards.

So when it was revealed that he was giving it all up to take over the top job at troubled contractor Carillion, it raised more than a few eyebrows in the industry.

He’s currently due to take over in April, but with Carillion recently announcing another profit warning and that it expects to breach its banking covenants, the pressure for Mr Davies to take the reins sooner is growing.

He’ll have a big task on his hands once he finally does.

Helen Gordon, chief executive, Grainger

helen gordon grainger

helen gordon grainger

In charge of the UK’s biggest private landlord since November 2015, Grainger chief executive Helen Gordon is one of only a handful of female chief executives in the construction and property industries.

Grainger is also one of the big players in private rented sector development, so the company’s moves in this area should be monitored to assess the confidence in that market.

As leader of the business, Ms Gordon is the one shaping that strategy, so her influence on the burgeoning PRS sector will be significant.

Paul Hamer, chief executive, Sir Robert McAlpine

Paul Hamer chief executive Sir Robert McAlpine

Paul Hamer chief executive Sir Robert McAlpine

Paul Hamer became the second non-family member to take over as chief executive of Sir Robert McAlpine in June 2017, making the switch from consultant WYG.

The appointment gives an insight into how the McAlpine clan feels the business must evolve, but just how many changes he is actually able to make will become clearer in 2018.

With phase three of Battersea Power Station and a string of other high-profile jobs on the books, Mr Hamer will be looking to ensure McAlpine doesn’t repeat the mistakes of the past – and perhaps even make the business a bit more open.

Stuart Harvey, major projects director, Transport for London

stuart harvey transport for london tf l

stuart harvey transport for london tf l

Transport for London created its major projects division as a way of bringing together its projects teams into one centralised body.

The team oversees projects including Silvertown Tunnel, Barking Riverside and the Northern line extension. Stuart Harvey was appointed to lead the division in the summer, and already has a growing to-do list.

Perhaps most pressing is agreeing payment with Battersea Power Station Development Company for the proposed Northern line station at the site. Talks seem to have stalled, and Mr Harvey has said the station could be mothballed if BPSDC doesn’t cough up. This will need to resolved one way or another in 2018.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick, chair, Grenfell Tower Inquiry

sir martin moore bick

sir martin moore bick

The Grenfell Tower fire shook the industry in 2017, with Theresa May swiftly setting up a public inquiry to investigate its causes.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick is the man charged with chairing that inquiry and his findings and recommendations will undoubtedly have major ramifications for construction.

The inquiry’s terms of reference include the “design and construction of the building”, and while the inquiry could rumble on for a long time, Sir Martin is someone the industry will be watching closely in 2018.

John Murphy, chief executive, J Murphy & Sons

john b murphy coo murphy group

john b murphy coo murphy group

In October, J Murphy & Sons took the decision to put the firm’s leadership back in the family by appointing John Murphy, grandson of the firm’s founder, as chief executive.

After years plying his trade in various roles across the business, most recently as chief operating officer, he becomes chief executive with Murphy still striving to hit £2bn turnover by 2020.

At just 37, there is a lot of learning for Mr Murphy to do. But if he has inherited any of the skills of running a construction business from his grandfather, he should be well placed to succeed over the long term.

Sir John Parker, chairman, Laing O’Rourke

Sir John Parker chairman Anglo American

Sir John Parker chairman Anglo American

Sir John Parker took over from Ray O’Rourke as Laing O’Rourke’s chairman on 1 November, with the firm’s founder remaining as chief executive.

Both served together on the board of Anglo American previously so will have a strong working relationship, which will be necessary to get the business back on track following a £245m group pre-tax loss in its most recent full-year update.

Mr O’Rourke told CN last year that he planned to step aside from the business in 2020 and Sir John’s strategic nous and experience will steer the company through turbulent times.

Lara Poloni, chief executive, Aecom EMIA

Lara Poloni chief executive Aecom EMIA

Lara Poloni chief executive Aecom EMIA

Aecom is in an interesting place now, trying to make the one-stop shop construction model of design, build, finance and operate work where others have failed.

Many are dubious that it can be done – but Aecom, led by Lara Poloni in Europe, is setting out to prove them wrong.

She’s already made her mark by installing David Barwell as the company’s UK boss in place of Patrick Flaherty, who has been made chief executive of integrated management services for EMIA. Expect her to continue to stamp her authority as the firm’s strategic direction carries on taking shape.

Alok Sharma MP, housing minister

CREDIT Foreign and Commonwealth Office_Alok Sharma housing minister

CREDIT Foreign and Commonwealth Office_Alok Sharma housing minister

Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Alok Sharma joined the government as housing minister not long after Mrs May’s disastrous snap general election, in which the previous minister Gavin Barwell lost his marginal seat.

Just days after his appointment came the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, leaving Mr Sharma to deal with the fallout despite having had no time to get his head round his brief.

He still faces a lot of pressure in 2018, but many in the industry felt he dealt with a tough situation reasonably well, offering signs of encouragement for the industry’s future dealings with government.

Mark Thurston, chief executive, HS2 Ltd

Mark Thurston CEO HS2

Mark Thurston CEO HS2

When Mark Thurston joined HS2 in January it wasn’t without controversy.

The former CH2M man’s appointment came just a month before his previous employer scooped a £170m contract on the scheme. CH2M eventually withdrew but the controversies continued, with a scandal breaking around the payment of unauthorised redundancy payments.

Mr Thurston’s first aim for 2018 will be to change from a development to a delivery body ahead of civils work beginning in 2019.

His second will be to try to put the controversy of 2017 well behind HS2 and restore public trust in the project.

Debbie White, chief executive, Interserve

Debbie White Interserve

Debbie White Interserve

Debbie White took over as chief executive of Interserve from the long-serving Adrian Ringrose, a week after the contractor posted a pre-tax annual loss of £94.1m.

The bad news has continued from there, with a fresh profit warning in September and the axing of a number of jobs in November.

The pressure is on Ms White then to undertake the second-biggest turnaround job in UK construction after Carillion. The situation isn’t quite as desperate as its larger peer, but Ms White needs to steady the ship – and quickly.

Fabienne Viala, chairman, Bouygues UK

Fabienne viala female chair bouygues uk

Fabienne viala female chair bouygues uk

Fabienne Viala has been chairman of Bouygues UK since the summer of 2016, managing all of Bouygues’ construction activities in the UK.

The firm’s most high-profile news in 2017 was its exit from Battersea Power Station phase three, with Sir Robert McAlpine taking over one of the most expensive single construction contracts ever in the UK.

Bouygues is still involved with some of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects, however, including Hinkley Point C and High Speed 2 – so Ms Viala will need to ensure the business keeps performing to the highest standards.

Our 2017 list – how did they fare?

Gavin Barwell

Gavin Barwell MP

Gavin Barwell MP

Gavin Barwell MP

Gavin Barwell did see the housing white paper published in 2017, which we alluded to as being a crucial part of his year. But the unexpected snap general election did not end well for Mr Barwell, who lost his marginal seat to Labour. He swiftly resurfaced as Theresa May’s chief of staff, and is still a big influence inside Number 10.

Sarah Beale

Sarah Beale interim chief executive CITB

Sarah Beale interim chief executive CITB

Starting the year as CITB’s acting chief executive, Sarah Beale soon became permanent head of the organisation, and 2017 proved to be a very eventful year. She helped CITB successfully navigate the consensus vote, before announcing plans for major reform in 2018 – which will be make or break for the training organisation.

Mark Carne

CN Summit 2017 Mark Carne 1

CN Summit 2017 Mark Carne 1

Network Rail continues to be an organisation under immense pressure, as is Mr Carne. He’s not on this year’s watchlist, but it’ll be a big year for the Network Rail chief nonetheless.

Gregor Craig

Gregor Craig chief executive Skanska 2

Gregor Craig chief executive Skanska 2

Taking over from Paul Chandler as executive vice-president not long before our list was published last year, Gregor Craig ended up going one step further in 2017, becoming Skanska’s UK chief executive in May. The firm had its problems in 2017 – not least the saga at Battersea Power Station, which eventually saw it hand over the reins on phase two to Mace.

Isabel Dedring

Isabel Dedring

Isabel dedring 2by3

Isabel Dedring

The Construction Leadership Council, where Isabel Dedring is the group’s smart technology leader, secured a sector deal for construction in November’s Industrial Strategy. This was the CLC’s main aim for 2017 and, with technology and innovation at the heart of it, Ms Dedring will have had a big say in shaping it.

Steve Fox

Steve Fox chief executive Bam Nuttall

Steve Fox chief executive Bam Nuttall

Bam Nuttall missed out on the HS2 civils contacts, but is carrying out some of the enabling works as part of the Fusion JV. Steve Fox was also an outspoken supporter of CN’s Mind Matters campaign on mental health in 2017, sharing his own personal experiences.

Sir David Higgins

Sir David Higgins HS2

Sir David Higgins HS2

Following the resignation of chief executive Simon Kirby in 2016, Sir David Higgins oversaw the appointment of his replacement Mark Thurston in 2017, as well as the awarding of the multi-billion-pound civils contracts. HS2’s year was overshadowed by the conflict of interest saga involving CH2M, however, which culminated with Sir David being hauled in front of a Commons select committee and CH2M choosing to step back from its development partner contract.

Brendan Kerr

Brendan Kerr chief executive Keltbray

Brendan Kerr chief executive Keltbray

Keltbray’s purchase of Dunne Group in 2016 saw it continue to grow, with Brendan Kerr overseeing the group’s continued expansion in multiple specialist areas.

Roger Madelin

Roger madelin

Roger madelin

British Land’s Canada Water development, which Roger Madelin oversees, has still yet to really take off, with 2017 proving to be reasonably quiet. Perhaps 2018 will be the year when this scheme starts to really get out of the ground.

Ashley Muldoon

Ashley muldoon

Ashley muldoon

Multiplex continued to rack up the major project wins in 2017, becoming the third contractor to take on One Nine Elms early in the year. It was one of the biggest climbers in this year’s CN100, too, growing turnover by a whopping £415.9m to exceed the £1bn-turnover mark in the UK for the first time. With Chelsea’s stadium on the horizon among other big projects, count on more high-profile wins for the Australian firm.

David Poole

David poole highways england

David poole highways england

Highways England’s commercial and procurement director had a busy year, with the awarding of the Collaborative Delivery Framework’s consultant lot early in the calendar. The organisation is set to change how it procures work when the CDF ends in 2018, though, and Mr Poole will be a crucial part of how those plans develop.

Ray O’Rourke

Ray O'Rourke 2014 CEO Laing O'Rourke

Ray O’Rourke 2014 CEO Laing O’Rourke

In December, just after CN went to press and named Mr O’Rourke in our list, his company announced the first loss in its history, an eye-watering £245.6m that shocked the industry. Ray O’Rourke subsequently gave his first sit-down interview in many years to CN editor Tom Fitzpatrick in March, where he talked about his plans for the future and how he wanted the industry to change. The company’s year was further overshadowed by the death of former chief executive Anna Stewart, announced in October.

Joanne Roney

Joanna roney chief executive manchester city council

Joanna roney chief executive manchester city council

Taking over from long-serving Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, Ms Roney has continued to oversee a period of transformation in Manchester, with huge amounts of spending on infrastructure and residential construction alongside mayoral elections in May.

Nicola Shaw

Nicola Shaw CEO HS1 3

Nicola Shaw CEO HS1 3

Nicola Shaw came in as chief executive of National Grid in 2017 and had a quiet period, news-wise at least, with no negative headlines. The UK’s future energy capacity remains a headache for the government, though, and Ms Shaw’s organisation will continue to play a vital role in ensuring the country’s energy systems are fit for purpose through its multi-billion-pound investment plan.

Val Shawcross

Val shawcross

Val shawcross

As deputy mayor for transport, Val Shawcross has a lot of projects on her plate. Crossrail continues to approach completion, Crossrail 2 is stil struggling to get off the ground, while a myriad of other schemes, including the Northern Line extension and other tube upgrades, will continue to pose a challenge. The capital’s transport still has a lot of work left to give contractors.

Matthew Vickerstaff

Matthew vickerstaff infrastructure finance chief

Matthew vickerstaff infrastructure finance chief

Head of finance at the Infrastructure Projects Authority, Matthew Vickerstaff was set to maange teams responsible for PF2 policy and implementation – where not a great deal happened in 2017. The potential return of PF2 has kept bubbling under the surface, however, with the government announcing in October that it had launched a review of the next generation of PF2 contracts, with PF2 projects set to be green-lit on an ad-hoc basis.

Rick Willmott

Rick Willmott chief executive Willmott Dixon

Rick Willmott chief executive Willmott Dixon

Willmott Dixon doubled its annual profit in the year to 31 December 2016, a good financial performance when seen in the light of some of the struggles faced by many of its peers. Rick Willmott shook up the contractor’s residential division to make it more closely integrated with the construction arm, while continuing to win work in multiple sectors.

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