The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Intro to MBA Major Infrastructure Delivery Podcast Transcript

Katharina Burger

Welcome to this podcast about the new MBA in Major Infrastructure Delivery at the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction at UCL. My name is Kat Burger, and I am an Associate Professor in Major Infrastructure Delivery and the Deputy Director for the new MBA programme.

In this podcast, I invite you to come along with me on a journey to explore the thinking that has gone into the new MBA, why it is an important and timely development, and what to expect from the programme.

So, in the next couple of minutes, we'll hear from the Programme Director and members of the Industrial Advisory report who have made the MBA what it is today: a course designed to equip professionals with innovative management at leadership practices to successfully deliver major infrastructure projects.

Let's get started with Dr Juliano Denicol, who is the Director of the MBA Programme, Associate Professor in Megaprojects Management and Director of the Mega Project Delivery Center, Juliano: what is this MBA all about?

Juliano Denicol

So, this MBA is all about leadership and management. So, we are on a mission to develop the next generation of major infrastructure leaders.

Katharina Burger

So, it's about leadership to transform the delivery of major infrastructure projects. But is leadership really all that important? Here is what Peter Hansford, former Chief Construction Adviser to the UK Government and member of the Advisory Board for the MBA, told us.

Peter Hansford

Leadership is crucial to infrastructure projects. The reason for that is, they're complex. They have a major impact on society. So, we need to be training the leaders for these particular special projects.

Katharina Burger

But how do we design a programme to transform project leadership? What are your thoughts, Juliano?

Juliano Denicol

We are building this programme on the experiences and the richness of the UK's major and megaprojects so, going from Heathrow Terminal 5, the London Olympics Crossrail from Thames Tideway Tunnel, High Speed 2. We have a plurality of examples in the UK. But this is a global course. We are building upon the UK's experiences, but we have global case studies to deliver infrastructure in multiple countries. As we know, this is very, very different from delivering infrastructure in Brazil, India, the UK. So, this is a global programme, building upon and exploiting the richness that we have in the UK.

Katharina Burger

Now, that's a very interesting perspective, and I think it touches upon another very important concept or challenge in the delivery of particularly complex projects, and that is the area of governance. And I think the industrial advisory Board also recognised that that's one of the key areas that this MBA would need to develop skills in. For example, Sue Kershaw, the Managing Director of transportation at Costain, and a member of the Board, has said the following:

Sue Kershaw

In terms of governance, it's really important to understand who does what and when and who is the decision-maker, and who is the influencer. On mega infrastructure projects, that could be up to 10 or 11 different

organisations or groups or boards. We need to really train our new leaders in infrastructure to understand what governance is, how it helps make decisions, and how progressive, i.e., real-time assurance, gives them the evidence and the structure to make the best decisions.

Katharina Burger

So, recognising the importance of governance, there is a module dedicated to governance in the structure of the MBA. But can you tell us a little bit more about what else MBA students will learn and perhaps how they will learn?

Juliano Denicol

In terms of the structure of the MBA, we have eight modules, and they happen in pairs, and the first module is on infrastructure policy and markets, and the whole anatomy of major projects, and where they are delivered, the institutional connections and how major projects might be delivered in different geographies according to different structures; so the whole understanding of the institutional environment, and also the main features that major projects are playing, and that managers need to address, such as scale, complexity, uncertainties in all the different dimensions that play a strong emphasis on the delivery of major projects.

Katharina Burger

Thank you. Following from this first module, I know students then go on to managing economic and financial risks, the structuring governance and assurance work, and this is then followed by designing client organisations and corporate strategies, procuring and integrating the supply chain, building, developing and leading teams, to come back to this original challenge that we started with on leadership. And then there are two final modules on controlling information and systems and managing stakeholders and creating value to round up the programme, and, combined with the final dissertation, which is taking the form of a consultancy project, help to get this breadth of exposure to some of the core topics that are important to managing complex projects.

So, let's hear from our very own Professor Tim Broyd, who is Director of the Institute for Digital Innovation in the Built Environment. Tim, could you tell us a bit more about what this means for the design of the content that goes into the teaching on the MBA?

Tim Broyd

We wouldn't expect someone in a leadership role to know the ins and outs, the fine detail of electronic and digital techniques, but they do need to know what the capabilities are, how they might be used and how they can best be used to the benefit of the project at hand.

We think it's crucial that they know what is being done and not only what questions they should be asking but to whom they should be addressing those questions.

Katharina Burger

Thank you, Tim. And I think one of the final points we may want to cover is where this will be delivered, because it's also in a new, exciting location. So, Juliano, do you want to say something about this?

Juliano Denicol

Importantly, this programme will be delivered in the brand new UCL East campus, and we are situated within the Olympic Park. So, it's a fantastic story of learning how to deliver major infrastructure projects from within the legacy of the London Olympics, which was a Megaproject in London, successfully delivered in terms of many aspects of the programme. So, we see this as part of the London Olympics legacy as well, and we are very much building upon this legacy to inform the next generation of management leadership practices going forward, so it's…we're quite excited with this new campus. There is a fantastic executive venue, state-of-the-art facilities, lecture theatres for interactions, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the first cohort of the MBA programme in 2023.

And lastly, I want to emphasise that this programme is very much built on peer-to-peer learning. So, the experience that people bring to the programme is also very important because we are aiming for this global cohort of executives to share lessons and learn from one another in terms of case studies and discussions.

It's built on science, but it's very much on applications, and we want decisions to be made in real life, in real terms, and our laboratory is the case study discussion during the courses.

Katharina Burger

Wonderful. Thank you so much for this insight, and I think if you are interested listeners, then you can have a look at our website: ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/construction/major-infrastructure-delivery-mba. You can, of course, also contact Juliano or myself directly via email. Our emails are available through the links with this podcast, and we also have, of course, an admissions team that is always there to answer queries around how to write the personal statement, for example.

We very much look forward to your application to the programme and are happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Thanks for listening.