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Gold winner

Employer: BAM Construct UK

Project: UTC Portsmouth

With no preconstruction input into this three-storey new build, Matt Crookes roared out of a standing start like the true F1 racing fan he is, and improved a programme he didn’t devise.

He found simple and direct ways of enhancing a collaborative approach and involving the supply chain productively. By creating client trust, he grew a powerful partnership that generated a positive community impact. He got the very best from the teams he worked with.

Commitments to completing an earlier project denied Matt Crookes any input into this three-storey school new build until the very first day of construction. The dismaying truth became apparent on his first day: the scheme faced widespread opposition and hostility. And it wasn’t just local residents who were worried – the client team was also concerned about the change in project leadership from preconstruction.

Matt relished the hearts and minds challenge. He offered to help the client team with their marketing, and personally facilitated scores of site visits. He rolled out the red carpet for MPs, university vice chancellors, Royal Navy Sea Lords, business leaders and potential sponsors – and reaped the PR benefits. He hosted a construction expo and careers fair on site, inviting hundreds of local children and residents, and laying on cherrypicker rides and power tool tryouts.

The management team too felt the force of his arrival. He shuffled it to align duties with experience. He appointed the site manager with the most crane experience to be the lifting coordinator, and with no-one on the team with deep M&E experience, he arranged for a local building services manager to do periodic quality inspections.

He made the programme a key project tool rather than a piece of paper to pinned up and forgotten. Focusing on the big five packages, he printed out the key dates on a single sheet of A4 and stuck a copy above every desk in the site office to help focus the mind and promote discussion.

As for the build itself, he put less in and got more out. He introduced acoustic lighting rafts with integrated fire detection, replaced suspended ceilings with exposed soffits, and stepped the ground-floor slab to minimise the reduce-dig.