I have to profess, I know little (nothing) of Jesse Norman other than what I have read this week. Graduating from Merton College Oxford (having studied previously at humble and little known Eton College) leaving the city as Director of Barclays, he has served the good people of Hereford over recent years.
With the help of peers (Stephen Lovegrove, energy & climate change a prime example) one things for sure, he will have to be good at prioritising multiple, pressing, high profile projects.
So, having dusted off his brass nameplate for his door, where does he start with some of these?
- Instilling confidence back into foreign investment in UK commercial projects post-Brexit. Last year some 1800 projects, feeding 67,000 jobs could be attributed to those projects funded by foreign investment. A scary portion of these people no longer see our shores as ripe for the picking. Admittedly, with the further weakening of the pound, this has helped elevate immediate fears around Britains decision to leave the EU
- Major skills shortage. Attracting graduate intake, bolstering apprenticeship schemes in a wary market. A major theme of post-recession construction in Britain, this is an issue that keeps gaining traction
- Hinkley Powerplant. Commentary not required after this weekend.
- Infrastructure investment. Again little needs adding. Given our exiting the EU and the associated indecision around our economy, it will be very interesting to see how he whips parliament into emptying its coffers in such projects as HS2/3 projects along with the various proposed road project investments.
- Creating a more meaningful plan for introducing offsite construction into major projects. Again, another area of building products/construction gaining more and more interest. Greener and more time (and therefore cost) effective there has been a real push on this method through the various trade press and respected media. Other G20 countries (Germany and Japan to name but two) have welcomed the innovation, with projects adopting this method spiralling. However, for whatever reason, there seems to still be a stigma attached in the UK, with uptake sporadic at best.
- Managing the necessity for contractors/building product manufacturers to use BIM 2. The BIM taskforce was formed in 2011 with the key aim of introducing 3D BIM into every government-funded project by this year. The benefits are clear – quicker processing of information, lower costs and carbon footprint – but contractors, consultants and manufacturers alike are still struggling to get a handle on it, let alone find personnel experienced enough to lead its integration (see second point).
- Ongoing pressure from regions for devolution to occur (oh and preserving, let alone ramping up the Northern Powerhouse).
- Controlling the weather allowing projects to be completed on time to budget (I jest of course!).
So given the little I have read into Mr Norman's background, I am glad he has worked at the top of a major banking group, having graduated from one of the big two redbricks of our fine country. I am looking forward to a follow-up blog in six months reviewing his initial efforts. I along with the millions employed in the sector wish you the best of luck.