On 4 May, I attended the ‘Future of Work in Construction’ conference at the ExCeL Centre in London.
Mark Thurston, Chief Executive Officer of HS2 opened with a keynote address, ‘building back better and equal.’ He explored the meaning behind the motto, ‘I care, you count, we matter,’ and emphasised that we have a rare opportunity to drive innovation and leave a lasting legacy both on the project, and within the communities it impacts.
Next, there was a panel discussion surrounding the future of work in construction, what we want that future to look like, and how we are going to get there, moderated by Jenny Hinde, the director of The Clear Company, along with:
- Katy Dowding, Executive VP, Skanska
- Stuart Graham, Employment & Skills Manager, Balfour Beatty
- Mark Harrison, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Transformation, CIOB
- Kate Myers, Director and Expert Adviser, Capacity Building, Crossrail International
The panel explored how to engage future generations sooner, particularly in schools, and how best to showcase the industry, and create an inclusive space for all who work within it.
The debate entitled ‘shaping and creating a well-being culture within your organisation’ discussed that value within a company comes from its people, and how we can lead with empathy in order to create an environment that supports a diverse workforce with differing needs. Participants were:
- Moderator: Mark Cameron, Chief Executive Officer, The 5% Club
- Amanda Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, Amey UK
- Steve Kerslake, Founder, Construction Sport
- Helen Samuels, Managing Director, EKFB
- Mike Turlin, Chief Executive Officer, Construction Buddies
Jenny Hinde and Anna Mäkinen from The Clear Company presented, ‘achieving an inclusive culture through authentic change,’ showing that equality, diversity and inclusion are more than just a KPI target, and provided insight on how to make authentic change to create an inclusive culture within an organisation.
‘Unlocking the potential of your business and workforce with innovation’ discussed how we can break the norm to create programmatic change within industry, with:
- Moderator: Paul Bamforth, Head of Global Strategic Accounts, Buildots
- Matt Warren, Head of Digital Engineering & Integrated Solutions, Lendlease Europe
- Yewande Akinola, Engineering Designer, Innovator; Ambassador for Clean Growth and Infrastructure, Innovate UK
‘The future of construction and getting to net zero’ panel discussion explored the ways different organisations within the industry are strategizing to reach net zero, and emphasised that we must make these strategies into a reality within our organisations with impactful and purposeful actions.
- Moderator: Lara Young, Group Climate Change Director, Costain
- Tim Bowen, Managing Director, Keltbray Group
- Graeme Fox, Head of Technical, BESA Group
- Kirstin McCarthy, Sustainability Director, Aggregate Industries UK
- Tzach Ram-On, CEO and Co-Founder, INTSITE
The final panel was entitled ‘role models and building your future career in construction.’ Discussions explored how we can leverage diverse traits not only for our career progression, but for others around us, and how important having minorities in leadership roles can be to inspire the next generation, as ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’
- Moderator: Teik Tan, Procurement & Supply Chain Manager, Costain
- Sally Cleaver, Group Diversity Manager, Willmott Dixon
- Katie Kelleher, Crane Operator/ Appointed Person, Select Plant Hire
- Siu Mun Li, Head of Temporary Works Engineering, Multiplex
- Alison Pacifico France, Director, Evosis
Overall, the event was incredibly thought provoking and provided inspiration for practical actions we can take to foster a more inclusive environment that both attracts and supports new talent in the industry.
Thank you to all the speakers and ambassadors, as well as Olga Korzhova and her team for organising.