Science and Technology specialist Andrew Kelleher has joined our London office to lead S&T Business. Here Andrew shares some of his background and goals for his new role with Structure Tone.
Q1 – What is the Science and Technology sector and what sort of work does it entail?
The science and technology sector is very important to the UK economy. The sector includes an array of ‘segments’ and due to its extensive and transformative nature is difficult to define. The sector permeates a broad range of industries for example life science and health care, finance, education, construction and manufacturing. Within Structure Tone’s traditional operating geography, London contains around 22% of the UK’s S&T workplaces and employs about 17% of the UK’s S&T employees. A good example is life science and health care, where sector growth is driven by the increasing burden of chronic diseases and an ageing population. With this growth brings an increased demand for built environment infrastructure assets to support the growth aspirations of developing organisations responding to societal need. Specifically, this means an increase in demand for; research facilities, manufacturing, process suites and packaging plants as well as corporate and general office space to name but a few of the growing sector needs.
Q2 – Where were you working before you joined Structure Tone London?
Previous companies include PM Group, Jacobs and Amec Foster Wheeler. After a successful early career in design and project engineering, I spent three years with Amec, based at one of the most challenging sites for project delivery in the UK, the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire. The technical and cultural challenges of the site were considerable given the nature of the client’s business. My first assignment with Jacobs took me to Bradwell, a nuclear decommissioning site, where I led a multidisciplinary team to develop a pioneering engineering solution to dispose of intermediate-level nuclear wastes both safely and cost-effectively. The project proved to be one of the most difficult and challenging stakeholder management endeavors of my career. After completing an extensive portfolio of capital investment projects across EDF Energy’s UK’s nuclear generation fleet, I transitioned into Life Sciences with PM Group to broaden my industry experience. Big project challenges have never strayed far from my chosen career path, with my first life science project taking me to GSK in Worthing to tackle a complex facility upgrade to restore operations in an aging pharmaceutical primary production facility.
Q3 – Tell us about the knowledge, experience and qualities you bring to the role?
With over 20 years’ experience delivering complex technology, construction and infrastructure schemes I bring considerable management and leadership experience. As well as working extensively client-side delivering projects and programmes in live operational environments, I have substantial experience working contractor-side. This is an important experiential attribute, as a ‘dual perspective’ enables me to respectfully understand each party’s expectations and aspirations. I feel privileged to have led such a wide variety of projects throughout my career across a broad section of industry, both as an engineer and project manager. These experiences uniquely position me to lead and grow our Mission Critical Science & Technology business. Securing suitable business is just the first step. There are going to be many challenges ahead to convert these wins into the successful delivery of our clients’ capability needs. I firmly believe effective project managers should have a comprehensive understanding of industry best practice and play an active role in improving project delivery. I feel fortunate to have collaborated with some highly respected and influential people in the project management profession, and privileged to have been exposed to an extensive network of professionals, enriching both my knowledge and experiences.
Q4 – What are the unique elements of the Science & Technology construction?
Science and technology pervades every aspect of our lives and is highly influential in dictating the future course of industry. Our S&T business is where construction, engineering, technology and science all converge. I see my role as bridging the gap between these disciplines to enable access to greater business diversity and prosperity. This promises to be a very exciting journey as these elements combine to expose new challenges. I can cite a recent example where I have supported a fit-out project with a strong technology influence, involving the installation of a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. As this medical instrument comprises a very heavy high field magnet, a specific set of construction challenges present themselves requiring specialist knowledge of, for example, foundation construction, radio frequency shielding and material selection. So, I would summarise by saying that the unique elements of science and technology construction derive from the sheer technical diversity and the ‘bridging of disciplines’.
Q5 – What are the biggest challenges?
Although the Science & Technology market is extremely diverse, spanning virtually all industries, I see the life science sector as having considerable market potential. Given my two distinct roles, firstly winning business and secondly delivering business are the two main distinctly different challenges. The biggest delivery challenges will come from the heavily regulated industries, for example, the biopharmaceutical industry, with the design, construction, installation and commissioning / qualification / verification (CQV) of new or upgraded infrastructure being governed by stringent risk based quality management systems which are supported by current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) methodologies and practices. Good construction quality is a prerequisite for successful CQV so establishing and maintaining high levels of design and construction quality is going to be one of our biggest challenges. Organisations commendably strive for zero safety incidents during their projects, why not apply the same rigor to quality?
Q6 – What appealed to you about working at Structure Tone?
Apart from being given the opportunity to work for a highly successful and respected construction business in London I was delighted to be selected to lead and grow Structure tone’s mission critical S&T business. The added appeal comes from the excitement when I imagine where our growth plans might lead and what can be achieved ultimately, given the market potential. My appointment represents a rare opportunity to utilise my whole range of skills, experience and knowledge, requiring an aptitude for both the entrepreneurial and delivery aspects of the role. Hopefully I can use these to positively influence and drive some early successes. To some extent it’s like starting one’s own business but with the added benefit of having access to an established, highly skilled and experienced team and an extended skills base across a global business.
Q7 – What’s the greatest lesson you have learned in the construction industry?
My greatest lesson learnt in the construction industry is the need to minimise defects during the design and construction process – a lesson learnt directly from building new, and upgrading old infrastructure in the life science sector. The selection of good consultants and contractors is obviously very important. However, applying the resources to drive construction quality assurance (CQA) early in the project has a very significant impact on a project’s outcome. A clear commissioning strategy underpinned by a good CQA programme, established at the pre-construction phase of the project will help transition good engineering design into field execution / construction and help to eliminate many of the problems encountered during commissioning, qualification and validation. From a client perspective a successful project is where a facility reaches optimal operation in a safe manner, in the shortest possible timescale, achieving high availability and reliability during first cycle operation.
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