5 minutes with Rob Smart, Project Manager at Winvic Construction Ltd

24 October 2022

Project Manager Rob Smart – who is heading up design stage delivery on the West Midlands Interchange – introduces his role on the project and what he’s looking forward to in delivery.

How did you start in construction?

There’s a history of it in my family to some degree. My granddad was a mechanical engineer involved in the motorcycle industry around Nottingham. My dad was a mechanical engineer and pioneer in the UK nuclear power industry and my younger brother is also a mechanical engineer. I’ve always had an interest in the technical aspect of construction. I love the kind of problem solving that sits behind a lot of the engineering problems that we end up tackling.

What’s your role on WMI?

I come from an operational background so previously my role was to pick up a project during construction and manage delivery. My role on WMI is a bit different, which is really interesting. I’m currently involved with the Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA), which is the first of our four phases. It’s great to have input from the start of a project to shape design so it’s smoother and we can carefully look at ways to add value.

What difference do you think WMI will make for local businesses?

The sort of industry that a project like WMI brings into the area is massively significant. You’re looking at decade long construction programme, so that brings opportunities for local people and businesses.

However, there’s another bulk of benefits that come after the project has been delivered and goes into its operational life. With 8 million square feet of logistics space, the project is unique in the scale of employment. As a commercial industrial endeavour, the benefits for the local economy, local businesses and local people will go on decades into the future.

In your career so far, what are you most proud of?

That’s a tricky one! I previously worked with the Environment Agency, delivering flood defence and protection projects and I’ve worked closely with them on a recent Winvic project where we had to divert a brook and construct a railway bridge over it. Those projects can be really rewarding.  To be able to come in and deliver a project that will provide long term benefits where you can see the impact on a very human level is very rewarding. Likewise, to know you’ve done the right thing in protecting the natural environment and wildlife is an important part of a project

What do you see as the biggest opportunity on WMI?

Probably the investment in sustainable construction. Both the construction industry and society are becoming much more aware of the impact on ecology and the environments we work in. It’s hugely important at Winvic that we do everything we can for sustainable construction, not just in terms of the final product, but throughout that construction process. We want to go that extra mile and minimise any negative impacts if anything.

If we can apply that mindset of trying to always consider how we can have the least impact – from wildlife to communities to carbon emissions – we can leave behind an improved overall offering. Any temporary negatives can be offset by what eventually becomes a much more positive overall picture.

What would success look like to you on WMI?

There’s of course delivering the project on time and within budget as a measure of success.

However, there’s also delivering the project to the highest quality and the whole team working to one goal, drawing on the Winvic Way values; respect, loyalty, honesty, challenging, passion. Winvic, subcontractor, consultant and client teams feel a lot of pride about their sites for many years. Seeing a project you’ve delivered with betterment to the local infrastructure, local community spaces and ecological corridors is gratifying.

So, leaving behind a positive mark would be what success looks like. Even for the individuals who won’t be employed on the development, there’s also the improved public spaces and habitat enhancements.

What do you think will be the legacy of WMI?

What we do now impacts not just on the Earth, not just our kids, but potentially generations down the line. We want to be part of a positive business who wants to leave a positive legacy. So like I said, it’s critical that we ease any negative impacts from the products we’re delivering.

It’s noticeable the differences you can see from when I first started out in the industry to now on civil engineering projects. Winvic set out with consideration to improve the local environment and the local ecology in terms of the final scheme that’s offered. I think that’s a legacy to be proud of.