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For many years, Balfour Beatty Power Transmission & Distribution was the ‘go to’ business for the design and successful delivery of Overhead Lines and associated cabling. They were however a company of expert engineers but poor managers, making high margins despite tremendous waste and inefficiency. Changing market conditions and increasing competition were ‘a wakeup call’ that they had to change their culture and quickly. I was hired after previous internal attempts had failed and because of my track record of operational experience and determination to succeed.
Although the regional operations managers were regarded as the problem, and they were with only a few exceptions managers in name only, the real ‘deep seated’ issues stemmed from the executive and leadership teams, right up to board level. Self serving politics and career posturing at senior level made my task many times harder than was necessary. There was no enforcement of objectives at local level and only token focus from above, despite a very ‘switched on’ MD.
There was also almost a complete absence of business ‘best practice’, with little or no real understanding of the need for ‘good housekeeping’ or dedicated cost awareness. I therefore concentrated on these issues and, although successful, could have done so much more in the available time, had I been properly empowered to do so.