Stephen Holmes was promoted to contracts director of rail industry contractor Gleeson MCL in May this year. Joanna Booth finds out how he is settling in.
What is your background?
I studied civil engineering at Sunderland University.
I wanted to do something that led into a structured career, so I chose a course that meant I spent six months of each year in industry.
I missed out on the long summer holidays but by the time I got my degree I already had a year and a half 's worth of experience on a live construction site.
I started as a site engineer with Mabey Construction in 1988 and worked my way up. In 1996 I was made contracts manager.
What is the most exciting aspect of your new role?
I'm responsible for the civil package of works at King's Cross Underground Station. It's a £25 million contract, working under a Costain/Taylor Woodrow joint venture.
We've got another year to go on that, depending on whether we get a package of permanent highway works.
It's the logistical complications that make the whole thing one monstrous challenge - keeping the station open while we reconfigure major elements of it. I'm based on the site 80 per cent of the time, running it in parallel with the contracts director side of my job.
Have the changes in the structure of London Underground development and maintenance affected Gleeson MCL?
Tube Lines is a management contractor in essence and is using substantially the same supply chain as predecessors Infraco JNP.We're involved with station modernisations on the Piccadilly line.We had been awarded the whole line, a contract encompassing more than 30 stations, but Tube Lines has split up the package to give them a chance to address the procurement strategy.
Our work on some station jobs will go ahead at target cost and we may well win more.We start on three next year.Metronet is a bit different.Metronet is taking work on board internally, so is doing jobs we would have been in competition for. From that angle there are fewer jobs but with the same number of players on the field.
Are you taking measures to find new work from different clients?
We are trying to extend our client base at the moment, focusing on train operating companies.We did some platform alterations at Gerrards Cross station for Chiltern Railways and we are hoping to win more of that type of work in the future.
There's a Government transport spending review coming up in July.Are you concerned about cuts?
With our focus in the south-east I'd be surprised if there were major cuts.
The predominant problems in this area are in infrastructure and transport. I think public pressure is such that spending in this area can only grow.The tube and railway infrastructure has been left to deteriorate and needs modernisation.
Our estimating department has been busy. Our projected turnover for next year is £45 million.We think it's going to be an exciting year.