Employer: Kier Construction

Project: STEM, Plymouth

By proactively solving client-side challenges that affected this scheme to build a five-storey block, Andy Shepherd overturned the client’s low expectations of main contractors, set by a series of disappointing outcomes in previous major projects.

On this five-storey campus build, Andy Shepherd was determined to prove to the client just how wrong it was. A perverse approach? Not really – he seized the opportunity presented by a client that, as a result of disappointing outcomes in previous major projects, had come to expect the bare minimum – and possibly less – of main contractors.

Promoted to project manager for this scheme, Andy focused on delivering the completion date for the new academic year intake. Once he had drawn up the contract programme, he developed a target programme to assure timely delivery and focused the whole team on that.

He proactively solved client-side challenges that affected the build. When live fibre optic cables found running through the proposed building footprint turned out to be a vital communication link around the city, Andy moved beyond his contractual obligations. He exposed the cables and then manually manoeuvred them around the proposed pile positions into a new trench, backfilling and recording their new position so piling could continue.

Likewise, when the client’s supply chain missed dates for delivering 260 desks, raising the spectre of a compromised handover date because the M&E contractor was unable to progress, he proposed installing floor-mounted conduit and sockets under the proposed desk locations.

With the project over budget by £1m, he drove a large value-engineering exercise. His initiatives included rationalising the M&E design – the number of air handling units were reduced and savings were made on light fittings – and a two-way road was made single-track with a passing point.

He successfully isolated all the construction downsides of a major project from the life of the lively campus. With the main college entrance offering the only viable access to the tight site, he prevented disruption to the students, parents and visitors using it five days a week by building a six-metre protective tunnel over it. He enforced a strict delivery procedure, acquired a holding location for lorries to wait until they could be safely brought onto the campus and to site, and strictly managed the gate and banking of all site vehicles.