Ray O’Rourke, executive chairman of Laing O’Rourke
This year’s entrant into the Construction News Awards Roll of Honour is Ray O’Rourke, the longstanding driving force behind the UK’s largest private firm by turnover.
Laing O’Rourke, formed when O’Rourke & Sons bought the contracting division of John Laing in 2001 for just £1, has powered up the CNinsight100 table of the UK’s biggest contractors. Under Mr O’Rourke’s stewardship, it has become the UK’s third largest contractor.
The company has become synonymous with brilliantly delivered high-profile projects, ranging from the construction of the Olympics venues as part of the CLM team to its £1bn Heathrow Terminal 2 replacement as part of the HETco consortium.
“We need to incentivise for success rather than covering each other’s backs and pointing the finger of blame in an adversarial way”
From its headquarters in Kent, the Laing O’Rourke group employs more than 18,000 people around the world.
Having recently passed the role of chief executive to former finance director Anna Stewart, Mr O’Rourke plays a critical role in the strategic direction and management of the group.
A respected leader, he has made a major contribution to the advancement of the industry in key areas such as health and safety management. In 2010, he was behind the launch of Mission Zero, a campaign to eliminate all accidents of any severity from the business by 2020.
He has heartfelt opinions on the betterment of UK construction, saying: “We need to incentivise for success rather than covering each other’s backs and pointing the finger of blame in an adversarial way.”
He supports this with views such as: “Future procurement needs to be a more collaborative model like the one used on Heathrow Terminal 5 and the Olympics, where you get promoters, deliverers and designers working together.”
His adoption of modern methods of construction has accelerated the group’s design for manufacture and assembly and digital engineering agendas, transforming the industry through innovative approaches to offsite manufacture and pre-assembly of core components using increasingly sophisticated technology.
Mr O’Rourke’s role in transforming and energising the company has a clear source.
“I am as fascinated with the industry today as I was when I first entered it as a young man,” he has said.
“This stems from the extraordinary people who I’m privileged daily to work alongside, and the wonderful outcomes we are able to achieve.”
His own achievements have been recognised by both crown and country. In 2011, on the 10th anniversary of the acquisition of the Laing construction business, he received an honorary knighthood in recognition of his services to the construction industry in the UK.
He has also been bestowed a Fellowship to the Royal Academy of Engineering and is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Civil Engineers, and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland.
Construction News Awards Roll of Honour
Ray O’Rourke, executive chairman, Laing O’Rourke
Stephen Pycroft, executive chairman, Mace
John Stanion, chairman and chief executive, Vinci
Andrew Wyllie, chief executive, Costain
Paul Drechsler, chief executive, Wates