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Andy Hughes, Director and business leader, Atkins


Director and business leader

When did you join Atkins?

I joined in 2005.

Why did you join Atkins?

I joined Atkins to develop a dams and reservoirs business - this was a tremendous opportunity as Atkins had been well known for dam engineering but over the years that position in the dams engineering league had dropped to a point where they were almost non-existent, and so there was a lot of work to do to bring them back into the “first division”. I believe I have now accomplished that.

What did you do before you joined Atkins?

I was running a dams and reservoir business for an American consultancy. My main role was to build upon an existing business and increase the client base. I worked on a number of large schemes and small schemes across the UK in particular.
How would you describe your role and responsibilities?

My role entails building the dams and reservoirs business around the world. The business is expanding the type of work it does in both the fields of water supply, irrigation, flood control and hydro engineering and widening its client base.

How do you describe what you do to friends and family?

I design and build new dams and try to ensure the safety of existing dams by inspections and carrying out remedial works. I also provide MOT certificates for dams and train people in dam engineering.

What key projects have you worked on?

My role means that I am constantly travelling and I always have an overnight bag at the ready in my office. It also means that I get to work on some of the world’s most technically challenging and rewarding projects in my sector. Those that really stand out for me include the New Dam project in the Dead Sea and the Dam Repair Portfolio for Yorkshire Water, and being Technical Advisor to Thames Water for the new reservoir at Abingdon.

What are you currently working on?

As an All Reservoirs Panel Expert I am often called upon to act as an expert witness in legal cases, so this is a constant stream of activity for me. I am also currently involved in advising on repair work for Yorkshire Water and United Utilities facilities, new dam design in Oman and remedial works on dams in the sensitive area of Hampstead Heath in London.

What achievement are you most proud of?

I am extremely proud when I look back at what I have achieved in the industry over the past few decades and that I work with clients that respect what I do. Two of the projects I’m most proud of are the Symvoulos Dam in Cyprus and the Audenshaw Dam in Manchester. The Symvoulos Dam was built for a military garrison in Cyprus and made the garrison more ‘independent’ in terms of water supply and ensured that depletion of groundwater sources did not take place.

What’s the most technically challenging project you’ve worked on at Atkins?

Some of the expert witness cases and the sensitive issues associated with the Hampstead Heath Project are challenging. They are multi-faceted, revolving around the softer issues of communicating change with local people and dealing with the environmental mitigation rather than the design engineering challenge in isolation.

How has your career developed at Atkins?

I have been given the opportunity to increase Atkins’ profile in around my specialist area and to build and expand the business

How have you been supported during your career development?

Since coming to Atkins I have been given every support I could have wished for. Nothing has been an obstacle in terms of building the business, venturing into other market areas, expanding the resources, braining the staff, etc. The network of professionals in the organisation around the world means I can get support whenever I require it.    

How do engineers and Atkins make a difference?

We, through the use of talented people in integrated teams, are able to supply superlative services to our clients based on skill, innovation and expert project management.
How would you describe the culture at Atkins?

It is a culture based on the supply of high quality services by a highly skilled professional staff.

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