Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?
I am Tideway’s Community Investment Manager. My primary role is working with our Main Works Contractors to ensure they are providing good quality community investments, with the greatest impact in the local communities affected by our work to construct a super sewer under the River Thames. We have 24 construction sites across 14 London Boroughs and I review and endorse investments that help us meet Tideway’s vision of reconnecting London to the River Thames and help meet our Legacy objectives. I am also responsible for working with one of our community partners – Thames21, where we have a developed a programme called Thames River Watch providing Londoners and communities a way to protect and monitor the health of the river Thames. They train Londoners to capture vital information on Thames water quality and the type of litter that is collecting on the foreshore. The data helps drive campaigns for change and it is amazing to see how a construction company can make a real difference to a charity.
What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?
After qualifying in Business Studies and Law I quickly decided that was not the right environment for me and opted for the world of construction instead. Having worked on a number of large billion pound infrastructure projects such as the London Underground Tube Upgrade, Crossrail and now Tideway. I have been able to experience the direct impacts large construction projects have on the community but also the great social and economic opportunities these large projects bring to the local areas impacted by the works. I have managed both legacy programmes for Crossrail and Tideway and now my focus is entirely on the community.
How has your community investment program evolved at your company?
At Tideway our vision is to ‘Reconnect London to the River Thames’. This provides a fantastic opportunity to do just that, internally and externally. Community investment and volunteering are key parts of our legacy plan and we have community partners such as environmental charity Thames21 and youth charity London Youth Rowing, where we fund major programmes to support the delivery of this plan, leaving a lasting legacy for London and it riverside communities. Each member of the CR team is responsible for these programmes, and over the last few years it has been really important for us to help grow their activities and make them even more successful. This is especially important as our project is due for completion by 2023 and we are working hard to ensure what we leave behind is sustainable. Tideway employees have 5 days of volunteering each year and we are always exploring ways to get people volunteering. We have embedded volunteering commitments into our Main Works Contracts, we have recruited volunteering champions across the project and we use our internal and external media channels to promote events including video footage of the very best of our events to our Tideway colleagues and important stakeholders. It keeps me and the CR team busy with ensuring we have plenty of different volunteering opportunities for our staff.
What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
The main challenge is to show the importance of community investment to our MWCs and delivery areas. We need to show how the construction industry can make a difference to the community so that the positive community impacts we achieve will be long remembered.
What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
Highlighting the importance of the community and how our contractors play a big part was enough to ensure our Directors included community investment in the procurement process, and contractors had to make proposals on how they will positively impact the community with their investments. It was loud and clear community investment was an important part of our business and we wanted to ensure all those who work for us felt the same and shared the same values. Another recent accomplishment was winning the Evening Standard Corporate Citizen of the Year award for our great work with Thames21 as mentioned above.
What is your motto in life?
When you stop being happy at work, it is time for change.