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Who is the champion?

To mark the 10th anniversary of next year's Quality in Construction Awards, Construction News is launching a competition to find the person who has contributed most to the industry in the past 10 years. We will be announcing our final shortlist in January. But to kick off the debate, here are 10 people that Construction News would like to suggest for nomination. Do you agree with us? Emma Crates reports

Ray O'Rourke, chairman, Laing O'Rourke Ray O'Rourke, a structural engineer from County Mayo, has risen from being the head of a powerful concrete subcontractor to owner of the largest privately owned contractor in the UK.

Nicknamed the King of the Subbies, Mr O'Rourke raised eyebrows when in September 2001 as owner of concrete specialist firm O'Rourke he bought troubled major contractor Laing for £1.

As a subcontractor Mr O'Rourke had already landed prestigious projects including GCHQ in Cheltenham and Portcullis House in Westminster. On taking over Laing he continued to stamp his mark on the industry, with a clutch of giant contract wins including main cont ractor on Heath row airpor t's £4.2 billion Term inal 5 project. 'He's a tough negotiator, ' says a colleague.

'He works best when there's trust between the parties.' Shying away f rom publicity, Mr O'Rou rke cuts an enigmatic figure in the industry, preferring to let his business speak for itself.

While some r ivals quest ion the wisdom of such fast expansion of Laing O'Rourke, colleagues praise his progressiveness and desire to innovate. He has demonstrated his aspiration to be a world-class player by appoint ing an advisory forum of exper ts to d r ive change throughout the company. He has also moved his 15,000-strong workforce to direct employment.

'Ray is tomorrow's man of construction, ' says a colleague. 'He brings energy, innovation, drive, energy and commitment to a project. And he's a great role model: he has that rare capacity to be able to relate to everyone ? from captains of industry to the guy on site with the shovel.' Another indust ry sou rce ag rees that Mr O'Rourke is 'that rare breed of man' who was born to lead his sector:

'He is very progressive and not hesitant nor frightened to implement his ideas, ' he adds. 'His takeover of Laing was very courageous. If there is anybody who could turn it into a success as a one-stop main cont ractor, it must be Ray.'

George Brumwell CBE, former general secretary of Ucatt THE LATE Chairman of the Const ruct ion Skills Cert ification scheme and former general secretary of construction union Ucatt, George Brumwell, worked tirelessly to raise health and safety standards in construction.

'He was a very strong down to earth man who embraced pragmatism. An excellent negotiator and master tactician who contributed enormously to our industry, ' says one contractor.

Mr Brumwell started his career as a full-time Ucatt rep in 1969 and became general secretary in 1992, during his time he was instrumental in bringing Ucatt back from virtual extinction and turning it into an inf luential body. Heading the union for 12 years, he was succeeded by Alan Ritchie in 2004.

He served as a member of the HSC's Const ruct ion Indust ry Advisory Committee from the mid-1980s until he was appointed a TUC member of the Health and Safety Commission in April 1998, a post he held until 2004.

Mr Brumwell championed good health and safety management, workforce involvement, mandatory health and safety training for all operatives and campaigned for action on occupational health.

After leaving Ucatt he became chairman of the Construction Skills Certification Scheme and sat on the Constructing Bet ter Health board , which is pilot ing an occupational health scheme in Leicester.

As Ucatt leader and latterly in his role at CSCS, he fought for a fully qualified workforce, lobbying both public and private clients to insist that all workers hold skills cards on their sites.

Mr Brumwell also worked for better pay and conditions for construction workers and was a member of the Government-backed Strategic Forum for Construction and CITB-ConstructionSkills, where he chaired its Health, Safety and Environment Committee.

When he died, friends remembered his 'unmatched' sense of humour, while Health and Safety Commission chair Bill Callaghan paid tribute to a 'true health and safety champion'.

'He was a man of integrity, a man, who if you got too carried away in abstractions, would rapidly bring you down to earth. He would remind you what it was like to be a brickie, a carpenter or a labourer on a construction site on a cold, wet winter's day, ' he says.

Peter Rogers, operations director, Stanhope chairman of the Strategic Forum 'He's a man in a million in our sector, ' says one industry source.

'Peter has a quiet way of making you listen, ' agrees another colleague. 'He has a real passion to be better, taking time to educate people around him. I don't know any other client at this level that would allow you to challenge his ideas. He gives everyone a fair hearing.' With the nickname JDI (Just Do It) Mr Rogers has pushed through change in his own company as well as the industry at large. He is respected for his approachability and his desire to lead from the front.

Mr Rogers was construct ion director in the late 1980s when Stanhope was undertaking its Broadgate development, which is now seen as a milestone project. It was a project that demonstrated the benef its of partnering before partnering was widespread.

Many of the contractors that first worked on the Broadgate project are still with Stanhope today.

'If one specialist gets into trouble we try and support h im, ' Mr Rogers said recently in an interview.

Strongly opinionated and an excellent motivator, Mr Rogers has legendary powers of persuasion. 'He's not the shouty type, but he is forceful at getting his views across, ' says one colleague. 'Pressu re doesn't seem to faze him.' Mr Rogers continues to champion issues and leads by example in trying to improve workers' conditions.

Stanhope sites are renowned not only for their safety standards but also for outstanding staff facilities.

Taking the reins of the Strategic Forum in 2002 Mr Rogers took a distinctly different approach to his predecessor, Sir John Egan, aiming for a more conciliatory approach across the industry.

'He has that rare capacity to see and consider the bigger picture rather than the short term gain. His impact has been enormous, ' says one contractor.

Sir Michael Latham, chairman of CITBConstructionSkills The former MP for Rutland and Melton is a veteran of construction reform who has left a lasting legacy with the industry. Sir Michael is respected across a broad church of sectors for his sense of fair play and his diplomacy when dealing with warring factions.

He is most associated with the groundbreaking report Constructing the Team, a joint Government and industry report that he chaired and published in 1994.

The report was commissioned at a time when relations between contractors and subcontractors were extremely adversarial. Performance was poor, clients dissatisfied, and profits negligible.

Steering a diplomatic course through the controversial area, Sir Michael set certain standards ? for example that the client should select a supply chain on quality rather than price ? that have since become accepted as benchmarks of best practice. The report led to the Construction Act of 1996.

The repor t also suggested that the client should be at the core of the const ruct ion process. This is now received wisdom for most of the larger contractors but at the t ime it was seen as a cont roversial proposal.

He also achieved lasting popularity with subcontractors by trying to address the age-old problem of payment in the industry and has been a leading advocate of partnering.

But Sir Michael's ambitions for industry reform have been severely hampered by cer tain ir reconcilable differences between contractors and specialists.

A decade ago the Latham report recommended the introduction of trust funds ? a pot of money held in trust at the beginning of a project from which all parties would be paid.

This has still not succeeded as a system in the UK due to breakdowns of talks between subcontractors and main contractors over who should control the money.

Sir Michael's vision may not have been fully realised in 1994 but his legacy of ideas still continues to be discussed.

In recent years he was invited back to chair the review of the Construction Act.

He now sits on a range of industry boards, including that of Willmot t Dixon.

n See page 24 Nick Raynsford MP Member of Parliament for Greenwich and Woolwich, Mr Raynsford took up his first Government post in 1997 when he held responsibility for housing, planning and construction as well as being Minister for London. He remained construction minister until 2001, after which time he took a sideways move to take on the local government por tfolio.

He recently returned to the industry as deputy chairman of the Const ruct ion Indust ry Council in June 2005.

Mr Raynsford is widely praised as the best construction minister the industry has had in recent years.

Later ministers such as Brian Wilson and Nigel Griffiths suffered from having larger portfolios and not being able to spend enough time on the sector. By contrast Nick Raynsford was praised for his focus.

Construction Confederation chief Stephen Ratcliffe said recently: 'Nick Raynsford listened and it seemed his heart was in it.' His achievements include commissioning and implement ing Sir John Egan's Reth ink ing Const ruct ion report. He introduced the Construction Skills Certification Scheme initiative, and the Movement for Innovation, which also enjoyed some success.

One low point was the introduction of the Quality Mark, which failed after he moved to other sectors.

Mr Raynsford has also slated construction for bad design and sloppy procurement which, he says, is letting the industry down.

'He was a positive man and skilful politician who made an impact, ' sums up one contractor.

Alan Powderham (right) transportation director, Mott MacDonald Group 'Alan takes a holistic approach to solving challenging problems. His solutions aren't just techn ical, he also looks at the management and implementat ion aspects and is very keen on integrating design with construction. His solutions are buildable and that's why the contractors love him, ' says a colleague.

A specialist in foundation engineering, Mr Powderham leads research and innovation in transportation for the Mott MacDonald group and chairs the group's transportation professional excellence forum.

He has more than 35 years' exper ience in design, const ruct ion and management of major civil engineering projects, including the Caracas Metro, Docklands Light Railway, Channel Tunnel, Limehouse Link, Medway Crossing and Jubilee Line Extension.

A leading practitioner of Observational Method and Value Engineering, his two highest-profile achievements have been in providing solutions for the collapsed Heathrow Express tunnel and the Boston Big Dig project.

'He has a tremendous problem-solving ability. Both of these projects were turning points for him, ' says a colleague.

But those who have worked with him stress that Mr Powderham is self-effacing and keen to seek consensus.

'He has a huge strength in being able to persuade reluctant clients and teams that his way is best. It's not just about finding the technical solution, it's getting everyone to agree the right way to move forward.' Author of a wide range of papers and publications, Mr Powderham believes in sharing best practice and has helped develop an engineering doctorate course in transport knowledge and systems engineering with universities.

'Alan Powderham is someone whom everyone wants on their team, ' comments one industry source.

Mike Welton, chairman of Hanson, former chief executive of Balfour Beatty, The most remarkable thing about Mike Welton is that although unt il recently he was chief executive of one of the UK's largest contractors, hardly anything has been written about him. A chartered civil engineer, he worked for the Department of Transpor t in motorway building before joining Balfour Beat ty in 1978.

He rose from the rank of project manager in Balfour Beatty Construction to become chief executive in 1995.

Throughout his time he developed a reputation ? both inside and outside the company ? of being an extremely modest man who was not interested in self-promotion.

But, known to be a good team leader and a good supporter of his staff, he earned a big and loyal following for his complete dedication to construction and the prosperity of his company. Industry sources say he is respected for his straight-talking, his ultra-organised approach and his focus on the business, while at the same time being approachable.

Over the period that he was chief executive of Balfour Beat ty the company's profit grew by 10 per cent or more annually. He also oversaw a run of successful acquisitions which gave the business a stronger portfolio.

One of his principal concerns while heading Balfour was safety and he strove for continuous improvements in this area. While he was CEO he was instrumental in appointing the first director of safety and environment to the board.

One industry source said: Mike was very clear that you should stick to doing what you are good at, and this shaped the development of Balfour Beatty.

He became chairman of Hanson Plc in April 2005.

Steve Rowsell, head of the procurement division of the Highways Agency Steve Rowsell can take credit for transforming the procurement patterns of the Highways Agency and was instrumental in transforming the adversarial relationship between contractors and client in this sector.

An engineer by training, Mr Rowsell has worked for the former Depar tment of Transport and Highways Agency for 25 years. Much of this time was spent on major projects including the Second Severn Crossing and the A34 Newbury bypass.

It is probably his experience of some of the Department's more controversial road projects that have made Mr Rowsell the great reformer that he is today. Appointed head of procurement in autumn of 2000, he launched the Deliver ing Best Value Solutions and Services, the Agency's new procurement strategy in 2001.

'When he took over procurement of the Highways Agency he clearly saw a complacent client and supply chain that did not have any clear idea on why it needed to improve, ' says one source.

'But he demonstrated absolute leadership and a huge personal commitment to change.' He is described as a 'top communicator' who has been able to convey his own very clear vision of reform to both the client and supply chain.

'He's very approachable, ' says a source. 'He created an environment that allowed us to try really innovative things in a no blame culture. He's inspired a great deal of loyalty, and got a very personal touch.' Key among the procurement principals were the Agency's commitment to partnering and early contractor involvement.

Some of Mr Rowsell's other achievements include the introduction of the Capability Assessment Toolkits.

'These have helped set standards, forcing contractors to look at their strengths and weaknesses, ' says the head of one major contractor's roads division.

Mr Rowsell also introduced Managing Agent Contract (MAC) framework contracts for regional road and bridge works between £500,000 and £5 million and the Pathfinder procurement method for major projects of more than £5 m illion.

'He has been a force for good, ' sums up one contractor.

Andrew Wolstenholme (right) construction director of Heathrow Terminal 5 Mr Wolstenholme is const ruct ion director of the UK's biggest building programme, the £4.2 billion Terminal 5 project at Heathrow.

Term inal 5 is so large it has had to be broken down into 147 subprojects, each one large enough to be treated as a major project in its own right. But Mr Wolstenholme, described as a natural leader, has embraced the scale of the task in hand.

He previously had exper ience in deliver ing railways, airfields and other infrastructure but working on T5 is the first chance he has had to pull all these skills together.

Mr Wolstenholme was sponsored by the army to do a civil engineering degree at Southampton Un iversity. He stayed with the army unt il joining Arup at the age of 25, where his career highlights include being appointed director of the consultant's project management division in Hong Kong.

He joined airport operator BAA as deputy construction director of the Heathrow Express in 1996, 18 months after the Heathrow express tunnel collapse. He was instrumental in turning round a demoralised team and supply chain under difficult circumstances.

He rose to posit ion of head of projects, Heath row, then group const ruct ion director for all projects excluding T5, before being appointed T5 construction director in 2002.

Mr Wolstenholme is a passionate advocate of working within integrated teams and visits the T5 site two to three times a week.

On site he has the reputation of being a charismatic figure and a great speaker. 'He's not af raid to lead f rom the f ront, but he does so in a balanced and compassionate way, ' says one colleague. 'And I've never met anyone with such a focus on improving safety and standards.'

Norman Haste OBE, operations director, High-Point Rendel Norman Haste's career spans some of the major building projects of the past 20 years, earning him the nickname Brunel of the 20th century.

From 1985 to 1991 he was project director for the main civil engineering works at the £2.6 billion Sizewell B nuclear power station, then f rom 1990 to 1996 was Laing's project director on the £1 billion Second Severn Crossing. Both were delivered on time and to budget.

From 1996 to 2002 he was project director for the design and planning of Heathrow's £4.2 billion T5 project and chief construction witness at the public inquiry. In addition to his civil engineering role he handled all the infrastructure issues integrating the project with both the Heathrow Express and the Piccadilly Line.

He stepped down f rom this role in March 2002 to take over as chief executive of Crossrail. He quit Crossrail in October this year to become operations director for international project delivery and risk management consultant, High-Point Rendel. Mr Haste was awarded an OBE for services to civil engineering in 1996.

'He is one of the statesmen of the industry. He's done some amazing projects and is someone who has added to the assets of the country with great style. He has a more traditional approach but what he delivers he delivers ext remely well, ' says an indust ry sou rce.

Who else?

Our list is by no means a final one, and space does not perm it us to add prof iles of other contenders, such as Andrew Wyllie ? former managing director of Taylor Woodrow's construction arm who has just taken over as chief executive of Costain, Sir John Egan, chairman of the inf luential Rethinking Construction report, and Chris Wise ? formerly of Arup, who became A rup's youngest ever director in 1992, and now is director of design company Expedition.

Email your comments and suggestions of other candidates who should appear on ou r January shortlist to cneditorial@emap.com by Tuesday, December 20.

Who do you think has made the greatest impact on construction in the past 10 years? Would you like to add any names to the list? Send your nominations, with brief reasons why, to cneditorial@emap. com or write to the editor at Construction News, 151 Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4GB by December 20, 2005.