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Mike Haigh, James Harris named chairman, MD at Mott Macdonald

Leadership change comes at UK construction consultancy as Keith Howells steps down after 14 years of chairmanship

Mike Haigh, chairman of Mott Macdonald.
Mott Macdonald
Mike Haigh, chairman of Mott Macdonald.

New leadership has been announced at UK construction consultancy Mott Macdonald, with Mike Haigh replacing Keith Howells as group chairman, and James Harris taking over from Haigh as group managing director at the $2bn business, with both leaders expected to start in their new roles this July.

Howells retires from Mott Macdonald after 45 years with the engineering, management, and development consultancy, of which the last eight were as chairman, and previous 14 as MD.

Haigh, whose alma mater includes University of Leeds, joined Mott Macdonald after graduating in 1981, starting as a graduate engineer in the water sector business.

In a statement, Mott Macdonald said Mike would ensure that digital transformation remains a focus for the company, with the new chairman also said to be a “proponent of employee ownership”.

He was group MD since 2017, and had previously served as regional MD for Mott Macdonald’s Europe and Africa business, as well as its Middle East and South Asia unit.

James Harris, MD of Mott Macdonald.

Harris, his replacement, studied civil and structural engineering at University College Cardiff, and also started at Mott Macdonald’s water business in the UK in 1990.

Mott Macdonald said Harris had driven “initiatives such as embedding carbon reduction in operational and project decision-making, and expanding support for clients to tackle climate change and build resilience”.

The new group MD’s tenure at Mott Macdonald includes time in Hong Kong, and a stint as MD of Mott Macdonald’s water business, as well as the Mott Macdonald-Bentley joint venture.

Commenting on Howells’ retirement and his future focus, Haigh said: “With Keith at the helm we’ve evolved greatly as an organisation, not only in the people we work alongside but also in the roles we recruit for.

“The digitisation of our work means we’re now often recruiting for data scientists, software architects and information consultants, which perhaps did not exist in our industry eight years ago.”

Harris added: “Keith has been an inspirational leader and not only for our 16,000 colleagues. Over the years he’s championed and helped drive better practices across the engineering profession, especially in safety, ethics, and equality.”

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