Five Minutes With…. Andy Hicks

14 Jan 2022

Today we are speaking to Andy Hicks, who has worked as a Managing Consultant with Develop Consulting for three years and is currently working on a multi-million-pound development project in the capital.

Andy Hicks Consulting Consultant Manufacturing

Tell us a little about your background in consulting?

I’ve been working with Develop Consulting from the start, so since November 2018. I had previously worked with KM&T the year before after 24 years working for Unipart, where I started as a production engineer in an exhaust factory. I was then lucky enough to work with a very well-developed Toyota supplier (learning TPS in detail). I was able to develop my career in senior operational and consultancy roles, for nearly two and a half decades

I was attracted to DC by the mindset and approach of the people I met when I started with the company, and I’m glad to say that it was a great career step to make.

This past year I’ve been working on quite a large construction project in the heart of London with some multi-national companies.

How have you found these last 12 months and working in the centre of London?

It’s been a real challenge and an eye opener, both working in the city and on such a significant project. In the first few months of travelling to London, restrictions were at their highest and I almost became best friends with the train ticket inspector as sometimes, we were the only people on the train!

It certainly helped me settle in with the city being very quiet – anyone who knows me, knows I am a country boy so getting used to working in the very centre of London took me out of my own comfort zone. As the city has become busier and things have re-opened it has certainly given me the chance to enjoy London. The opportunity to explore the green spaces across London has been really fun, and for that I consider myself lucky.

The team I work with on a daily basis have also been really helpful, with occasional social activities (when allowed) and advice on things to do and see.

Can you give us a quick outline on the project you have been working on and how you have been helping to project manage it?

I’ve been lucky enough to be working on one of the biggest and most prestigious hotel build projects in London with one of the best construction organisations around. My focus has been on engaging with, collaboratively planning with and problem solving with all of the key planning, technical and leadership teams delivering a significant part of the overall build.

We have developed a systematic approach to co-ordinating the activities needed to move the build forward, as well as strong data-based performance monitors, which in turn drive problem solving and back-office work to ensure all that is required for the teams who do the install and fit out, is there so they can proceed. It’s not perfect, but in the context of the last two years of skills, material and labour shortages, we are getting there.

I’m a Mechanical Engineer at heart, so by definition being able to work with and on technically challenging projects, fulfils a need in me which enables me to give of my best to the team, in terms of advice, guidance and coaching in solving the wide and varied problems we have come across in the last 12 months.

Has it been a challenge with it being during lockdown and changes to regulations?

When I first started the project, restrictions were at the highest level, so the level of actual face-to-face time was non-existent. We had to be very agile and creative, engaging a team of 15 to 20 people on a regular basis, collaboratively planning, problem solving and monitoring a physical build remotely, but we managed to adopt various on-line tools to create a robust process, which we were able to quickly convert to a face-to-face environment as soon as restrictions lifted. The construction sector has, in reality, not stopped during the last two years (as it is a critical industry) and the people working within it as a whole, not just on the project I’m on, have been incredibly resilient, resourceful & from my experience, of great humour, in tacking the various supply chain, skills, resources and technical challenges that exist on all construction projects and that the various lockdown rules and restrictions have very much amplified.

Where do you foresee 2022 going?

As of today, I believe we there is a high degree of nervousness about the start of 2022, in regard to restrictions and potential lockdowns. Everyone wants a return to normal and that may well take time and further adaptation of the “new normal.”

However, I see 2022 for construction and manufacturing specifically, as a significant growth opportunity.

There is daily evidence of confidence in many areas and sectors and with continuing innovation and investment in newer sectors (MMC volumetric for example), additional investment in more traditional sectors (automotive & leisure-based manufacturing to name a couple) and (critically) a willingness to change approaches, learn new capabilities and styles, and behave differently to deliver ever improving levels of safety, productivity, customer service, quality, and employee experience, I for one am looking forward to “Going Further” in 2022 with current and new clients.

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