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David Tonkin to leave Atkins as six UK divisions merged into four

Atkins UK & Europe chief executive officer David Tonkin will step down later this month, as the group prepares to reshape its UK business over the next six months.

Atkins said it would merge some of its six UK businesses to create four larger divisions.

  • The rail and highways & transportation divisions will be merged.
  • Defence, aerospace and communications (DAC) will be combined with management consultants.
  • The design & engineering arm will focus on buildings and infrastructure for the energy, defence, aviation, transportation, education and mixed-use development sectors.
  • Water & environment will offer services in water engineering, ground engineering, planning and environmental teams.

There will be no changes to Faithful+Gould or Atkins’ energy division in the UK.

Mr Tonkin, who is stepping down for family reasons, will continue to consult with Atkins during its switch to a new operating model by 1 April 2015.

He will be succeeded by Nick Roberts, currently strategy and growth director for Atkins’ North America region, on 1 December.

Mr Roberts has previously worked for Mr Tonkin in Atkins’ rail division and has held leadership roles in the company’s UK design & engineering, rail and water & environment divisions.

Mr Tonkin told Construction News the move to the new operating model was “opportunistic”, as the increasing M&A trend towards consolidation in the consultancy sector would lead to “inflexibility” in competitors.

He said this had convinced Atkins there was an “opportunity to be even more market and client-focused”.

The changes had been planned over the last three months, he said, and would help Atkins to focus on bigger jobs as the market heats up.

Asked whether the merged divisions would lead to job losses, Mr Tonkin said Atkins currently had 1,000 vacancies and if efficiencies were found by merging divisions they would reduce the number of staff they were seeking to bring in, rather than reduce existing employee headcount.

He said there may be restrictions in the availability of senior-level staff such as project managers, but that Atkins was fortunate to have a strong brand that appealed to prospective employees.

Mr Tonkin said he was unlikely to return to a corporate, operational role, but would consider non-executive roles in future when the Atkins reorganisation was complete after April 2015.

Among the other management changes (see box) are the appointment of Geoff Kneen, current management consultants group MD, to lead the combined DAC and management consultants division. Geoff Robins, current group managing director of DAC will retire at the end of March 2015.

Philip Hoare, rail MD, will be the group MD for the combined rail and highways & transportation business. David Jenkins, the interim managing director for highways and transportation will assume a new and as yet unannounced role within the new organisation.

Atkins group CEO Uwe Krueger said: “As our clients and markets evolve, so must we. These changes position us better to deliver the technical capabilities, resources and innovation that will help our clients meet their business goals and solve the increasingly complex challenges we face.”

The engineering firm said the changes would help the company to put “greater emphasis on aligning more closely with its clients’ business objectives and providing innovative approaches to their challenges by drawing on a wider pool of cross-sector and cross-discipline experience”. 

More to follow.

Management changes

Geoff Kneen will be group managing director of the combined Defence, Aerospace and Communications (DAC) and Management Consultants. Mr Kneen is currently group managing director of Management Consultants. Geoff Robins, current group managing director of DAC is retiring from 1 April 2015.

Mike McNicholas will continue in his role as group managing director of Design & Engineering.

Philip Hoare will be group managing director of the combined Rail and Highways & Transportation business. Philip is currently group managing director of Rail. David Jenkins, currently interim highways and transformation managing director will assume a senior role within the new organisation.

Neil Thomas will continue in his role as group managing director of the Water & Environment business.

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