Changing the game in the infrastructure sector

In this interview Jackie Sadek, Chief Executive at UK Regeneration, discusses the push to improve UK infrastructure delivery and the impact of HS2 and Crossrail on attracting talent to the sector.

18 August 2017

An interview with Jackie Sadek, Chief Executive at UK Regeneration. This is part of a series of interviews gathering perspectives on infrastructure from industry leaders and key decision makers. Watch the full interview (or read the transcript) below.

How can we improve UK infrastructure delivery?

There is a massive push I think from all sides to up the game on infrastructure delivery. How we do that of course is a $64,000 question.

I think you're going to see quite a lot of movement on planning and streamlining the planning system to be able to do infrastructure projects. I think you're going to see a lot of fiscal stimulus. I think you're going to see a lot of whole area responses from the government to the delivery of housing and infrastructure to local authorities.

How do you find the right infrastructure projects for investment?

We've always been a fairly safe investment for foreign direct investment, the global investors coming in — a safe haven for money. The question is how do you find the right projects for the Chinese or the Indian investor to invest in and I think there's a big job to be done there in terms of navigating your way around that and that piece of work is quite thorny, quite difficult but it's something that I think the government is working quite hard on getting right and could do with a lot of support actually from the likes of Burges Salmon and other private sector interests in this arena.

What can be done to attract top leadership talent to the sector?

HS2 in just over 10 years my project and crew will be 55 minutes out of central London. I mean this is going to be a phenomenal game changing thing. The expansion of Heathrow after the election trust me that will go ahead there'll be 15,000 people on site there, there's going to be a lot of buzz and excitement and interest around all of these which I would hope would encourage new leaders to come into the infrastructure sector.

The recent documentary that's gone out about crossrail is a very luminous example of serious infrastructure leadership however there's more to be done and certainly we could do with more skills in this arena and we could be teaching this in a far more explicit way on engineering courses in particular.

Why do the general public think that not enough weight is given to their views on infrastructure?

I mean why do the general public think that not enough weight is given to their views? Well possibly because it isn't, possibly because we don't listen to people enough. I would say talk to your community long and hard, explain to them explicitly what it is you're trying to do but most of all frame the project in terms of the positive outcomes for them and their children and I think you will see a better result for your efforts.

What challenges does the construction industry face?

The biggest challenge we face in construction of course is the skill shortage – we have million of operatives retiring after construction between now and 2020.

I know there's going to be a big push for technology coming in and mechanising the industry so a lot more in terms of off-site construction, a lot more factory led stuff, CAD CAM led stuff, stuff where you start to play to people's real skill sets and put together – you know whether its prefabricated panels or whether it's you design an entire house you know with 3d printing – how it's going to go, I mean I'm no futurologists but we have to move towards a far more modernized industry.

So I think you're going to see a much more modernized industry coming through, partly because you know it's possible technically but partly because the pressure of the market will demand that we see innovation in this field.


For more perspectives on infrastructure, read our industry report featuring 13 in-depth interviews with industry leaders and key decision makers in the infrastructure sector.

Changing the game in the infrastructure sector

...the pressure of the market will demand that we see innovation in this field.
Jackie Sadek, Chief Executive, UK Regeneration

Perspectives on infrastructure

Perspectives on infrastructure

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure? Views from industry leaders and key decision makers, along with survey results from 1,651 members of the general public.
Read report