Walker Sime has a new Director of Infrastructure to help further build the success of a division which, under the leadership of co-founder Jon Sime and Director of Infrastructure Services Dom Gill, has already been part of important projects including Smart Motorways Programme, Viking Link, HS2, BAE Systems, SSE, and a host of other major utilities companies.
Just weeks into his new role, we caught up with Jon Neville to explore how his career to date is influencing his approach to Walker Sime’s Infrastructure future.
1. Growing the business
My role is to support the growth of the infrastructure business at Walker Sime, and that starts by working with Jon, Dom and the rest of the team to set our next three-year strategy. That strategy is about building on what we’ve already achieved and looking ahead to understand the sectors and markets we want to be a part of.
The UK infrastructure market is going to be central to the UK’s growth over the coming years, so in determining where we go next, we will continue to align our ambitions with our organisational focus on building a business our way. For example, we’ve built a reputation for technical excellence in delivery with our clients to date and that is all about the excellence of our people and making sure we stay focused on our people is key to continuing our successful journey of growth.
As part of that my focus is on building on the incredible team we have and in doing so developing the organisation’s capability — and the culture that sits alongside that — to help us deliver that growth successfully.
I like that challenge. I enjoy responsibility. I like leading people. I ‘grew up’ in oil and gas and I’ve led major delivery programmes in high pressure environments [for E.On, SSE, National Grid and others]. But what gets me out of bed in the morning is focusing on how we grow a business and how we get the best out of our people.
2. Growing the capability
The industry has and continues to face a real challenge over the coming years in attracting and retaining talent.
As the profile of our work changes it will influence the people we’ll be bringing into the business, the type of skills we need and the way we develop the skills of the talented people who are already part of Walker Sime’s infrastructure division.
We want to attract great diverse talent into the industry, and we’ll be focussing on the right mix of young, fresh graduates and established expertise for us to support our growth aspirations and to be a beacon in the market in attracting talent into the industry.
We’ll be considering how all of this affects the way we articulate our employee proposition, how it will influence the careers fairs we attend or the universities we partner with, and how it affects the way we support our new recruits once they’re part of the business.
As a genuinely people-focused business, these are vitally important considerations, because it’s not just enough to attract great talent. You have to develop that talent through knowledge sharing and technical leadership, and you have to do it in a way that’s consistent across disciplines. You have to really care about your people. And you have to look after them.
Walker Sime does that. Its entire philosophy is built on that. And as our objectives shift, we’ll be working with our People & Culture division to ensure we always have the right level of technical competence and that we’re continuing to bring in the right people.
3. People people
Twenty years into my career, I know what I’m good at. I’m clear about my personal values, the way I think and operate. I am very people-focused and people orientated. Not every construction company works that way, and that’s fine — there’s more than one way to run a business — I wanted to work with an organisation whose founder’s mentality and way of working resonated with my own.
I joined Walker Sime for a reason. I felt I could add value. This is a business that has grown organically and been successful while remaining true to its values. I felt I could help the business really push on and grow. I want to help build something and I want to be part of a legacy I can be proud of.
Together we’re developing a really defined business model and client proposition for the next stage of our growth with clear service lines and service offerings for a client base that’s built around the sectors we want to focus on. And as has been the case with everything Walker Sime has done to date, all of that will align with our values.
That’s massively important because this business has already demonstrated that our values are something people can get behind – and that will continue to help us attract and retain great talent.
To explore how Walker Sime could help bring your infrastructure project to life, talk to us.
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