Leaders UAE 2020 Finale: Why collaboration will remain 'king'

ALEC's CEO, Cundall's MD and partner, and Pinsent Masons' head of Middle East were on the panel

ALEC's CEO, Cundall's managing director and partner, and Pinsent Masons' head of Middle East were part of the panel
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ALEC's CEO, Cundall's managing director and partner, and Pinsent Masons' head of Middle East were part of the panel

It takes a village to raise a child just as it takes all involved stakeholders' participatory efforts to successfully complete a project within budget and on-time. This, among several other key talking points were covered as part of the first panel of Day 2 of the two-day Leaders in Construction UAE Virtual Summit, moderated by Construction Week's editor Ashley Williams.

As part of the panel, UAE contractor ALEC’s chief executive officer Kez Taylor; global consultancy firm Cundall’s managing director and partner, Richard Stratton; and international law firm Pinsent Masons' head of Middle East, Catherine Workman shared their insights on the pressing need of stakeholder collaborations to accelerate projects' performance and efficiencies within the industry. 

"We're in a region that builds the biggest and most complex buildings in the world. And that justifies why we need all stakeholders to be involved from the very start," Taylor said.

Echoing the sentiment of the discussion and adding his input, Stratton said: "The ability to successfully deliver a project needs all minds to work together."

Speaking of putting all minds to work together, ALEC and Cundall recently launched the Project of the Future initiative designed to engage young professionals at both companies to come up with an innovative idea to build a better future for the industry.

Three groups developed a model and presented their ideas to Taylor and Stratton, as well as ALEC's managing director Hercu Viljoen and CW's editor, Ashley Williams.

"The Project of the initiative was born out of an idea; imagine you've landed on Earth and have no idea how construction works. How will you then create a delivery model that is perfect?" Stratton posed.

Commenting on the purpose of the initiative, Taylor said: "If we stand back and look objectively, we will see that we've got ourselves into an awful mess. With The Project of The Year initiative, we treated this mess as an opportunity," adding that the initiative was the ideal way to accelerate stakeholder collaboration.

Workman said that - similarly - at Pinsent Masons, they launched a 'Spark Board' to support an inclusive approach to strategic decision-making and contribute to finalising 'big picture thinking projects'.

While importantly retaining the focus on stakeholder collaborations, the panel then transitioned to the related topic of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to improve the industry's collaborative nature.

Workman, who has acted for government bodies, consortia, operators and lenders on major infrastructure schemes and Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in relation to airports, ports, hospitals, schools, roads, waste and real estate redevelopment, said that "PPPs are the ultimate form of collaboration. They are perceived as expensive money; instead, they are solutions for a number of factors.

For instance, when Kuwait launched its PPPs programme, it was clear that it needed the private sector to bring skills, knowledge, and jobs in the economy."

Speaking about PPPs, Stratton said: "Before PPP came along, the focus was largely on capital costs."

As a closing topic, Stratton, Taylor, and Workman, pitched their thoughts about how collaborations within the industry in the Middle East can ensure a smooth way forward.

Workman stressed on the UAE government's stimulus package(s) as an efficient and collaborative effort to build a way out of the current crisis.

"Collaboration will be king. But, we need to be mindful and steer clear of a price-driven or capital-cost driven market," Stratton said.

"It is time to realise the value of putting successful teams together to operate optimally and delivering value. The clients are the conductor of the orchestra and they need to see the value in having stakeholders together. We need to look for how do we get maximum success by involving all the stakeholders. Things happening in isolation are not really bringing value," Taylor concluded.

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