BESA President focuses on showcasing excellence


Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) president Tim Hopkinson (picture left) focused on showcasing excellence at the President’s Lunch event on 28th September. He also officially launched the Association’s Future Leaders initiative.

The lunch took place at the Leadenhall Building, dubbed ‘the cheesegrater’ when it opened due to its distinctive appearance. Hopkinson took the opportunity to highlight the importance of BESA members in delivering visionary construction projects.

“This is a brilliant architectural vision and an astonishing feat of structural engineering. But it is building engineering services that bring it to life, make it function and make it suitable for events such as this,” he commented.

Hopkins pointed out that the industry must learn to showcase excellence: “We all have a part to play in raising the profile of the industry, using buildings like this to explain why our profession is so important; why it makes a difference; and why it also represents a great career opportunity for ambitious young people.”

Hopkinson warned that the poor image of building services, and construction as a whole, is damaging on many levels. “We struggle to attract people of all genders, from certain ethnic backgrounds; and many with disabilities who would thrive in our sector. The negative image of our sector continues to deprive us of our share of the best and brightest.”

The industry continues to suffer from under-investment in skills and training, as well as what Hopkins described as: “a woeful record on collaboration and reluctance to embrace digital technology.”

Perhaps reflecting the recent criticism of Lord Adonis (see 'BESA slams Adonis' criticism of industry's worries over margins' in the News section ), Hopkins brought up the problem of low margins: “Despite the continual push to drive down upfront prices and to ‘value engineer’ designs to strip out costs, construction is notoriously unprofitable.

“A number of large Tier One contractors have recently gone public about the fact that the margins they make are not sustainable. They say that, unless firms can get their margins up above 5%, the sector’s whole future is at stake. A much more collaborative alternative is therefore essential for our collective futures.”

The launch of the Future Leaders initiative reflects Hopkins’ ambition to bring the industry to solutions such as greater use of digital tools, and to attract the young people to the sector who will naturally drive the required changes.

“The latest digital technology is at our fingertips and can be used to deliver the very best building projects effectively. Our future generation will take those things and make them the norm. We must listen to them and guide them because in a few years this industry will be theirs.”

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