Strategic Leadership Group - Mark Hansford

30 Jun 21
Strategic Leadership Group - Mark Hansford

How does your current role align with GIRI’s objectives?

As the Director of Engineering Knowledge at the ICE, it is my role to help our members be better at what they do. The ICE Knowledge Programme is very broad, and some aspects align closely with what GIRI hopes to achieve, for example technical competence and eliminating error. We are also keen to better learn lessons from other projects, and that all fits neatly within the GIRI narrative.

What do you hope to achieve as part of the Strategic Leadership Group?

There is an opportunity to unite the ICE’s Knowledge Programme with GIRI, and hopefully we can work much more closely together. I like to think that we will be able to articulate what ICE sees as the priorities for the sector and its key skills gaps, and that GIRI’s programmes can support these. Similarly, through working with GIRI, this will throw up areas of weakness and opportunities for improvement, and we can use the Knowledge Programme to disseminate that thinking.

What do you see as the top priority of the Strategic Leadership Group?

Our top priority at the ICE is decarbonisation and net zero, and probably the single most important thing an engineer can do to reduce the carbon impact of a project is to stop getting things wrong. If we can make that connection really clearly – that reducing carbon doesn’t require complex solutions, that you just need to do what you do well, first time, and do it efficiently from a resource perspective – that will have a big impact.

What do you see as the biggest barrier to reducing error on a meaningful scale in the construction industry?

There are obviously many issues, but anecdotally we are hearing that the increasing degree of reliance on technology is potentially part of the problem – that while senior engineers understand what is going on behind the software, mid-level engineers are less able to articulate that. In other words, the ability of engineers to challenge what good and right looks like is becoming more difficult.

Is the information delivered to sites of decreasing quality and accuracy because those producing it don’t understand first principles? This is something the ICE would like to explore, and GIRI is perfectly placed to contribute to this.

Technology has the potential to avoid error and we shouldn’t roll back our use of it, but if what goes into the technology is wrong, what comes out is wrong. We need people who can look at what has been produced and understand whether it is right.

How have the industry’s priorities changed in the last 12 months and what impact has this had on error reduction?

With everyone working remotely, it has been very difficult to train people. A lot of companies have deferred their graduate intake because they couldn’t give them the training and supervision they need. So, I think that one of the priorities now is to ensure that graduates coming into the profession are getting the training and supervision they require, otherwise I think we will start to see an increase in error.

What first step would you suggest to someone just starting on their journey towards zero error?

That’s easy – engage with GIRI’s events.


About Mark Hansford

Mark Hansford is the Director of Engineering Knowledge at the Institution of Civil Engineers where he is responsible for identifying and delivering knowledge content for civil engineering professionals.  

Before joining ICE, Mark spent almost 20 years at New Civil Engineer (NCE), latterly as Editor, where he reported from the scene of a host of international engineering disasters including a bridge collapse in northern Portugal, a tunnel fire in Baltimore, and tsunami-struck Sri Lanka. Mark has an MEng in Civil Engineering from the University of Birmingham and spent three years as a practising engineer with consultant Atkins before joining New Civil Engineer in 2000.

Mark is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a board director of CROSS, and a member of the International Building Press board of management.


Meet the other Strategic Leadership Group members

Paul Lowe, Partner, Weightmans

Dr Alistair Hitchcock, Head of Engineering, Phase Two, HS2

Emer Murnaghan OBE, Innovation Director Civil Engineering, Graham

Ed McCann, Director, Expedition Engineering, and ICE Vice President

Back Back