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Preparing young people to be the next construction leaders

The CIOB and other firms are working on ways to develop junior staff

Who is going to run your company and be on the board in 20 years time? It is a question which is perplexing to many: with all industries competing for the best entry level candidates we need to make sure we get and keep the best to run our firms in the future.

A young committee

The CIOB has decided the best way to do this itself is to create a board of young people. Called Novus, it aims to get people involved with its work and find out more about becoming chartered.

The chair of the Novus committee is 29-year-old Ayo Allu, a design and build co-ordinator for Willmott Dixon. He says: “The average age of the CIOB is 53. The aspiration for Novus is to mirror what the CIOB board does.” The committee held its first event last month [March], a talk from last year’s Construction Manager of the Year award winners.

Helen Bainbridge, a committee member and trainee construction manager at ISG, says: “We are trying to get people involved with the industry and interest people which the CIOB might not normally appeal to.”

Mr Allu will serve a two year term and will then most likely take on a junior role in the main committee. He says: “We are trying to reach out to younger people. Before it might have been done by mailshots but now we are going into universities.”

He is also arranging an event - to be held later this year - for the next potential industry leaders and is aiming for input from senior people in other industries.

Pushing people up

Wates also runs a junior board which has its own tasks including competitive analysis and research, customer research and it works on internal budgets and cost management for the organisation, not just individual projects. Wates’ HR director Julia Tyson says it helps people push on through their careers.

“If you ask the big things of [the junior board] then you get accelerated development,” she says. The aim of the board is to develop people, but the idea is not to literally earmark people for more senior roles in future. “It certainly helps to broaden their outlook and raises their profile,” Ms Tyson says.

She adds that it is no longer about doing a good job today. “The way you can do it is look at how you can stretch them,” she says. But she is not a fan of the ‘golden escalator’, a system at a previous firm she worked for, where people might be chosen to follow a fixed path to the top. “People on it were not rated by anyone they worked with, it was talent management gone wrong.”

Ayo Allu’s tips for the top

  • Try to develop your business skills as well as your technical ones - it will help you get on faster.
  • Look at what other industries do to develop their leaders.
  • Talk to your peers in other companies to see what their experiences are. Even if you choose to specialise in one aspect of the industry, ensure you have an appreciation of the roles of your colleagues.
  • Try to get as much exposure as you can to the top people in your company.
  • Ask your firm for a mentor on another project and make sure you have regular meetings.

For more on Novus, see www.ciob.org.uk/regions/novuslondon

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