Welcome to 2021, a year that surely has to deliver on our optimism?

An interview with Andrew Tullett, Senior Partner of CampbellReith

Last year CampbellReith celebrated its 60 years’ anniversary and that in six decades we have experienced many challenges but none quite so devastating as the COVID19 pandemic has been for many.

In this latest piece, I wanted to take the opportunity reflect on the good things that have happened in the world through sheer hard work, human empathy and humility.

“Your vision, our world” is the vision for CampbellReith – what examples do you have that show evidence of how CampbellReith is making a difference to the world?

The majority of the projects that I am involved with are centred around the healthcare sector. This is an area where I feel our discipline and our teams really do make a difference. We have many moments where our teams can be proud of what they have achieved but one example that stands out is where we undertook a major project for the Ministry of Health in Ghana, West Africa. This was a $175 million project involving the design and delivery of six fully equipped 120 bed district hospitals. An invaluable part of our role was the involvement with local communities and our commitment to knowledge transfer. We arranged for the Africa team of engineers and contractors to come to our UK offices to transfer some new skills. We also sent our own engineers out in the field to West Africa to provide training for the site based staff. I think this is a good example of how we really have made a difference globally.

You are a Senior Partner now but what has been your favourite project since you started working at CampbellReith?

It has to be Grafton Way Hospital and the proton beam facility which we have delivered for UCLH. This new facility has already received its first patients and it’s a project that I have been involved with personally right from the start. It’s been a 10 year journey and I am one of the few team members who is still there at the end of it!

I think one of the things that really does bring a great deal of satisfaction is being part of such a great team. We’ve had the pleasure of working collaboratively with an international team of designers, contractors and equipment suppliers, who have all come together to deliver this much needed facility. We’ve also had the pleasure of being able to work very closely with the clinical teams at UCLH, which has given us a great insight into the challenges that they face in their day-to-day life. For them, we really hope we have made a difference.

Grafton Way Hospital is a new facility for the NHS. In fact, it is one of only two in the UK that will be offering this sort of treatment. With all the challenges that we have had overcome, and there have been many, the scheme has been an exciting and technically demanding project. What has given me immense satisfaction is working as part of a great team who have never lost focus on the fundamental purpose of the building – to make a national and a global contribution to cancer treatment so that more people can be treated and the quality of life of those living with cancer can be improved.

So, what has been your most challenging moment over the years in your role and at CampbellReith? There must have been some hairy moments?

Undoubtedly, I have to say that it is the COVID19 pandemic. As a member of the Board I have been involved in helping to steer the business through a number of recessions but the challenges we are facing now are completely unique. Having said that, I think that we should focus on the positives that have come out of it. As an SME one of our great strengths is our ability to adapt very quickly and I have been very pleased to see the way all of our staff have risen to the challenges of working remotely, how our investment in technology has really paid off and our teams are working as hard as ever to make a difference to our clients.

I think one of the things we are looking at now is the way the business environment is going to change in this new year. A lot of people are talking about the “new normal” and I think the way that we are working and have been working is going to change. We are probably going to be looking at more of a blended working approach, where most people will be working remotely some of the time. However it has to be combined with coming together in the office. There are significant advantages of being in the office, particularly for innovation in design – there is no real replacement for getting around a table and rolling your sleeves up with a pen and a piece of paper to sketch out ideas.

I think we need to take the advantages and the positives that have come out of 2020 to make it a better environment for all of us, to improve everyone’s work life balance and to capitalise on the use of technology where that offers advantages.

Last year, you launched Vision 2020. What is your vision for the future of CampbellReith and for the future of your discipline?

Probably about 20 years ago was the first time that I really did start to appreciate how much of a difference civil and structural engineering can make to the environment and connections of a building’s performance. Together engineers from all disciplines can truly innovate in the most surprising ways. For example, one project with which I was involved was a new facility for The Rolex Watch Company in Kent that had sustainability high on their agenda. As a structural engineer, I made a number of contributions, including the idea of combining the facade structure with the mechanical ventilation solution that introduced brand new technology into that building. It ultimately delivered outstanding environmental credentials.

In one sentence – how would you describe how CampbellReith has made a difference to the world?

A few years ago I was responsible for working with the other partners in the development of our five year business plan and at that time we decided it was time to take CampbellReith to a new level. The philosophy we identified with is to always be innovative, responsive and accountable to our clients and our work referrers. The vision that we developed as part of the business plan represents who we are as a practice and what we do for our clients and ultimately for the world as a whole.