Mark Beard: Construction is both an enabler and beneficiary of a strong economy

There is a strong link between the construction sector and prosperity and competitiveness in the UK. Could and should the government do more to support the industry?

Construction is both an enabler and beneficiary of a strong economy.  The infrastructure we build helps others to work more productively and a strong economy drives demand for our products.  The government is one of our industry’s biggest customers; a clear, well thought out pipeline of public sector work would help our industry with its long term planning and resourcing. As a key customer the Government is also in pole position to drive change in our industry, which is happening - albeit slowly.

What changes do you see taking place over the next decade in this key sector?

An increased use of information technology, particularly in 3D design and off site fabrication will occur.  The pace of change will be dependent on many factors, the most important being the enabling of supply chain knowledge and expertise.

Beard has been unusual in that it has continued to grow throughout the recession, whilst other firms in the sector have struggled. How has your approach been different?

A relentless focus on the prompt and faultless delivery of our projects and the creation of a working environment where every member of staff really wants to give their very best has been central to my leadership of the business over the last 15 years.  Being prepared to carry out small difficult jobs for customers, as well as longer more glamorous projects, gives us a very good spread of work and customers during more difficult times.

What is the most significant change you introduced to the company during your time as Managing Director?

Being prepared to recruit fellow directors and staff who are brighter and more knowledgeable than myself.  Their success reflects well on both me and the company.

Beard Construction is a 120-year old family-run firm. Did you consider a career outside the business?

Occasionally; life as a signature architect or England cricketer would have been fun, but a marked lack of talent was too great a hurdle to overcome.

As an alumnus of the New Henley Management Course and a member of Henley’s Strategy Board, can you tell us more about your connection with Henley over the years?

In 1992 I spent four weeks on the New Henley Management Course, which opened my eyes to a whole variety of new ideas from marketing to systems and managing change to finance, a really wonderful experience. Over the following 20 years I remained in touch with Henley trying to give a little back, enjoying each and every visit to Henley.  I am currently a Henley Pioneer and a member of the Henley Business School Strategy Board.  We have two formal meetings a year, but just as importantly each of us support the Dean and senior management team in our own way outside the formal meetings.

Mark Beard has been Managing Director of E.W. Beard Ltd. for the last 15 years.   Prior to this, Mark worked as a quantity surveyor for two other building contractors in the Thames Valley, and Rider Hunt in Sydney, Australia. Beard is an award-winning construction company which operates across the South of England. With offices in Oxford, Swindon and Guildford, the company undertakes design and build, new build, restoration and refurbishment projects from £50,000 up to £10 million for public and private sector organisations, employing 200 people directly and approximately 500 further people as part of its supply chain.  Established in 1892, the family-owned company has significant expertise in building for the healthcare, arts and culture, commerce and industry, education, elderly care, sports and leisure and defence sectors.