Prof Andrew Edkins
Professor of the Management of Complex Projects
Bartlett Real Estate Institute
The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction
- Joined UCL
- 2nd Apr 2001
My professional research career started in late 1996 as I had substantially finished my PhD and had been appointed as a junior faculty member here at The Bartlett, working with Graham Ive on a funded research project that eventually led to the book 'The Constructors' Key Guide to PFI'. The success of this led to an additional funded research project that generated a second book 'The Role of Cost Saving and Innovation in PFI Projects'. This interest in PFI procurement (and then PPPs) has stayed strong ever since and in around 2008/9 led to an extremely successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project with KPMG. This KTP project examined the operational cost and performance of schools and hospitals built in the recent past in the UK and that allowed PFI and non-PFI procurement to be assessed via robust operational cost and performance data. It led to the publication of two well received and widely disseminated industry reports - both published by KPMG and a series of academic conference papers.
My other area of predominant interest is in projects and their management. As I've been lucky to have significant non-academic jobs in the world of projects I've drawn on these experiences. I have worked on a number of funded research projects The first major successes were in the area of risk management (specifically how project risks are identified) - Where I won two EPSRC grants, the second one was taken over by Professor Graham Winch at University of Manchester - as I left academe for an interesting role in the private sector. The second area I won an EPSRC grant for was looking at the complexity of managing refurbishment works in live operational environments. I've also done work as part of an EPSRC grant on international project performance comparisons (comparing almost identical facilities built in both the UK and France as part of the Channel Tunnel), for the National Audit Office looked at programme management in context of major regeneration schemes, and done a number of smaller commissioned pieces of work for organisations such as the National Housing Federation, nCrisp and CITB.
Having worked closely with Peter Morris since I returned to UCL in 2004, I've become very interested in the 'front-end' of projects and their management. Four of us from UCL have completed a self-funded research project into this incredibly important stage of the project lifecycle and have learnt a great deal from leading project organisations and have published a journal paper.
Most recently, I’ve been involved as part of a collaborative team comprising UCL and University of Bristol) in a research project commissioned by Infrastructure UK (part of HM Treasury) looking at potential interdependencies arising from proposed significant infrastructure projects in the UK. This exploratory work has been fascinating as it has presented the opportunity to challenge how government funded infrastructure projects are considered from the perspectives of systems experts from Bristol together with Built Environment experts from the Bartlett.
2004 - 2012 Course Director: MSc Strategic Management of Projects. During this time I took strategic responsibility for all 10.5 modules (44 contact days) and direct responsibility for 7.5 of these modules. This involves taking the academic lead for overall strategic learning objectives as well as organising the detailed delivery of material. This involves:
§ Identifying relevant academic content (both student reading material and preparing lecture content)
§ Identifying a range of suitable case studies
§ Inviting guest speakers
Given that the MSc has fundamentally altered as a result of wider economic factors, the re-launch of SMP in 2011 (for the first time all 10.5 modules to be delivered in one academic year) was a significant event as the students will be drawn from around the world and from many differing project based sectors.
Other Teaching: Jointly responsible for two MSc modules on other MSc courses. One (Managing Construction) is an optional module and its reputation makes it the most popular choice – last year 46 students took the module.
- University College London
- Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy |
- University College London
- Other higher degree, Master of Science |
- University of Portsmouth
- First Degree, Bachelor of Arts |
My experience is purely projects - and complex or major ones in
particular. After finishing my degree I started out working for father's construction company and cut my management teeth on complex commercial refurbishment projects. I then went on a superb graduate training
scheme with the former John Laing plc and upon completition of that was proudly part of the team who built
Chelsea & Westminster hospital - the first 'fast-track' major
teaching hospital project for the NHS). Following the recession of the early 1990s I went to UCL to do my masters (MSc Construction Economics and Management) and since then I've been an academic (1996-2000; 2004-) and in industry (2000-2004). The four years I spent out of UCL were as a member of the senior management
team in the PFI sector - working for a company that was the operator and
consortium hub for PFI/PPP prisons and other custodial services.
As a former competitive triathlete I am used to setting goals. Now in my post-racing days I've transferred this ability to the work environment. My goal therefore is to create an environment where academic rigour and practical insight come together to take on ever more complex projects and deliver them successfully. Never has the need been greater for academics and practitioners to put their heads together to solve some of the impenetrable challenges we face - in both the short and long terms.
I have a pretty good understanding of
strategic management issues for projects and programmes, and as I've
researched, worked in, and now teach on PFI and PPP so I guess I'd have
to include understanding of that area.
I also have looked into crystal ball of the future via a lot of strategic planning exercises and this is sobering as the future offers some mighty challenges that we cannot avoid for very long.
That and generally being a positive motivator for others!