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Innovations Flow From New Role

7 January 2013

The first ideas to flow from the Costain Start-ups programme are now operational or at the development stage, as the Company taps into the expertise of its staff.

The scheme, launched last summer, aims to encourage personnel with good business ideas that align with the Company’s strategy. If these ideas are approved, Costain will help develop and invest in them.

However, overseeing the launch of Costain Start-ups (the Company has invested in one idea and is considering four more) is part of the work being undertaken by Group Strategy Director, Ross Agnew.

After 18 months in the new role, which grew out of the former Group Business Development and Strategy position, he is well into developing and implementing initiatives that can strengthen the Company’s future prospects.

He works on the development of strategy with the Executive Board, but also gets involved in ‘transformational opportunities’ directly with our customers.

One of those opportunities is the innovative Severn Trent/Costain Joint Venture (JV) launched last year to provide complete water and wastewater management services for high-volume users in the industrial and commercial sectors.  “We’re embedded right in there, working with Severn Trent Water’s strategy team to develop that opportunity,” noted Ross and the JV has recently won its first customer.

Several further potential JVs are under consideration. One, with BAE Systems subsidiary Detica, would look at future ‘smart city’ concepts such as pulling together information on maintenance activities, while another with IBM would investigate possession optimisation for railway repairs and integrated operations centres for rail customers.

From a personal viewpoint, Ross views his role as being part of the team implementing the projects and not just working on developing the ideas.

Another aspect of his job involves ensuring that everyone in the Company is pushing in the same direction: “A Sector Director may have a good idea of where he wants to take that sector and part of my role is to align that with the direction of the Group.”