As I am interested in Business Advisory, I applied for a Quest at the UK team. The field of Business Advisory is currently at a nascent stage in Germany. Therefore the objective of the Quest was to facilitate an exchange of experience and knowledge. Before I started my Quest week, some preparation work had to be done. To get a better first insight and to figure out which topics are most educational, I had a telephone conference with the colleagues from London and Leeds. During the telephone conference I spoke to Nick Kealey (Quest host) and Julie Hodgson (organizer of my Quest week) from Leeds as well as Rebecca Harlow (Quest buddy) from London. We discussed all the topics I wanted to be introduced to by the different colleagues I was to meet during the Quest week. Afterwards I received a fantastic, well planned and really busy agenda prepared by Julie Hodgson.
My Quest to the United Kingdom started with a nice sunny day at Heathrow airport at 7.30 o´clock early in the morning. To get to Paddington Station I took the Heathrow Express, which is a really fast and futuristic looking train. After I arrived at my hotel, which was near Paddington station and also near the EC Harris HQ, I was greeted by Rebecca Harlow and Nicola Harrison who had completed her Quest in the Hanover office only a few weeks earlier. On Sunday we explored London and got to know each other during a Sushi lunch and a tour with the London Eye.
On Monday I arrived at EC Harris Head Quarters in London which is completely different from the ARCADIS office in Hanover. Rebecca Harlow showed me my place for the day and introduced me to Harry Walker who was my contact person for the days at the London office. I have met a few other colleagues with whom I was to work later during the week. During the day I spoke with a lot of colleagues about their field of work and daily duties as well as their education. One interesting difference concerning the office structure is that our British colleagues have hot desks while we in Hanover have our own desks each. Together with Peter Holden and Rebecca Kearney I went to the architectural office of Callison to get a better initial knowledge of each other and to identify a possible future collaboration. Finally the day ended together with Nicola and my buddy Rebecca with a perfect overview of London in a bar in the Shard.
Tuesday was my Leeds Day when I travelled from London to the EC Harris Leeds office in the morning and returned from Leeds to London in the evening. In Leeds I met Nick Kealey, Linda Raynor and Tim McDonald as well as a lot of other colleagues. They all gave me a really good overview of their daily work in the field of e.g. Social Infrastructure, and we discussed the projects they were working on. They told me the aims of their projects and which issues the team has to deal with and how they solve it. Besides work, one interesting topic was the guided tour through Leeds with Linda during lunch time.
The following two days the team meeting of the Business Advisory Service Capability Development with chairmen Gareth Robbins and Tom Morgan took place. During the meeting everyone presented an update concerning their projects. We also worked together on service documents and how these documents intend to raise awareness of the various services and approaches. The next point on my agenda was to meet Stuart Rogers who works in the field of Social Infrastructure. He explained to me his work with Public Sector Clients and his current project which involves a site that is to be built-up and for which the municipality has called for bids. In one phase of this project he had to select the optimal bidder company, whose concept fulfils the requirements of the municipality. One of my duties was to analyze and to evaluate the different proposals. After that I was asked by Stuart which bidder I would prefer. In the monthly Development Management Team Meeting in which I had the opportunity to participate, topics like Fee Earning Schedule and also other deeper insights concerning the Business Advisory field were discussed. Every Wednesday and Thursday evening, all colleagues of the EC Harris HQ come together at the entrance area bar of their office in order to chat and to talk about the week and their current projects. This bar is also used to meet with clients in a less formal way.
On Friday morning I was invited to a meeting with a client at the Hyder office in London. Reason for this meeting was to present to the client our service portfolio concerning the new Energy System Catapult. Michael Samways from EC Harris, Paul McQuillan and Simon Randoll from Hyder presented our scope of services. Later this day I met with Charles Tosswill from EC Harris as he manages an in-house project at the client’s premises, where we met. We first discussed the project in detail. This project is dealing with a highly specialized bidding procedure. Later that day I had the chance to attend the meeting regarding this bidding process.
In order to have some more days for sightseeing, I took two days of vacation so that I was able to spend the whole weekend, Monday and Tuesday in London. On my final day, Tuesday, I went back to the office to say goodbye to all the colleagues which I met during my Quest week.
A very warm and grateful thank you to the EC Harris London and Leeds colleagues for making me feel so welcome and especially to Rebecca for being my buddy. I was impressed by the extremely good organization of the week, and I received an insight into the work approach of my British colleagues. It was a great experience, and I enjoyed the journey very much. I look forward working together with my British colleagues on future projects. Thanks to the Lovinklaan Foundation for supporting such a great program. And finally, I would like to thank Gordon Mauer and Thomas Schulz for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Quest Program.
With best regards,
Ricarda-Vanessa Rudolph, ARCADIS Hanover