In conversation with……Ann Bentley, Rider Levett Bucknall
ANN Bentley, who has been appointed the new UK chairman of Rider Levett Bucknall, has a hard act to follow.
She has succeeded well known Birmingham property personality and founder of Rider Levett Bucknall (formerly Bucknall Austin), David Bucknall, who retired from the company in September.
But her experience within the the property and cost consultant – which has its UK headquarters at Millennium Point in Birmingham – makes a safe pair of hands for the role.
Formerly operations director, responsible for the smooth running of the 450 strong organisation’s seven offices across the UK, Bentley also has a seat on the firm’s global board of nine directors. The firm employs more than 3,000 people across 120 countries.
Bentley has officially been in post for eight weeks. Recently returned from a tri-annual global board meeting where the directors examined international areas of opportunity and formulated growth strategies accordingly, she is now focused on overseeing her home market.
What is on her current agenda?
“Very much working to deliver our three year corporate plan,” she said. “We have four key external facing areas to focus on. The first is to ensure that each employee is doing the thing that they are best at. Rider Levett Bucknall has received national awards for the way we invest in our staff and we very much appreciate that trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is simply a no go. In comparison, identifying, developing and utilising the best qualities of each of our staff certainly makes for a good international atmosphere and delivers the very best results for our clients too.”
She said a commitment to maintaining UK coverage from its regional offices remains a top priority too.
“This position makes us stand out from the crowd. We regularly meet with our local customers, identify what they need from us and then fully equip ourselves in order to meet these needs. From developing new property, refurbishing existing schemes to the remodelling of a total building, we are here to give a successful outcome,” she said.
“Rider Levett Bucknall operates under the ethos of ‘responsible management’ which enables us to help our customers do more with less. Assisting our customers to use less resource and spend less money to achieve greater results is something we seem to excel at. I do believe our roots and history in quantity surveying skills stand us in good stead for this particular area of expertise which we intend to continually research, develop and strengthen.”
The firm’s fourth and final external focal point is a pledge to generate more than 25% of its workload from overseas projects.
“In this respect, we are no different to any other growing consultancy. The opportunities are ripe and the world is shrinking in terms of access to them,” she said. “We have the expertise, the capability and the energy to get out there and compete with the best.”
In another key move, Mark Weaver, has been promoted to a new role within the firm where he will oversee major projects, mainly from an international perspective.
“Creating this new position reflects the importance we place on this international marketplace,” says Bentley. “Not only does it enable our existing staff to strengthen their expertise but it opens up new recruitment opportunities too.
“We are currently in the process of a significant recruitment campaign for those wishing to work in the UK and identifying others who may wish to spend a few months out in the Middle East or India to work on key projects that we have secured.
“The last few months have been particularly exciting for the Birmingham office which as well as being the central RLB hub for our nuclear team, has recently become the main home for our healthcare specialists too.
“On a more personal note I plan to attend a wide range of events in and around Birmingham over the next few months and hope to meet as many new faces as possible. This is a city that thrives on determined energy and an ethos of ‘Forward’. I look forward to being part of it.”