Matthew Pullen of PFI consultant Rock explains why there's no time like the present to go into PFI work
So what exactly is a PFI consultancy, then?
PFI consultancy is a young but growing discipline. Essentially we are management consultants to the PFI sector. Every PFI project has a budget to appoint three specialist advisers – technical, legal and financial. We see ourselves as the fourth specialist adviser, and our key skills are in leading negotiations. I direct lawyers and financial advisers, analyse financial models and lead teams in negotiating finance with banks, working to manage equity investment risks.

What sort of projects are you involved with on a day-to-day basis?
The first PFI project I worked on was a military base being planned in Northern Ireland. It fell through because of wider political issues, but at the time it was very rewarding to be involved. Now I lead a team of consultants working on a number of projects, one of which is a £200m PFI project.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
PFI schools and hospitals are top of the daily news agenda and are always satisfying to work on – I am particularly proud of the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital PFI project where we managed a consortium that was new in the market. We won the project, bidding against market-leading teams.

What sort of backgrounds do new recruits typically come from?
There is no such thing as a typical recruit, really, as this is such a new discipline. People with backgrounds as diverse as architecture, project management, project finance or law would all have skills that would be useful.

What would you say to anyone considering a move into PFI consultancy?
Because PFI is such a new sector, now is a great time to enter it – and it is central to government policy, so is here to stay. My job has been given me exposure at an early stage in my career to multimillion-pound negotiations, often interacting with key clients such as senior board members of banks and investors. My experience of the construction industry is that many big firms can be quite hierarchical, and not many will offer those kind of opportunities at an early stage. For ambitious young professionals in the construction industry looking for an interesting challenge, a sideways move into PFI consultancy might be the answer.

How do you see your future within Rock Consulting?
My immediate aim is to bring on my team of consultants to negotiate better contracts for investors, contractors and operators involved in PFI projects. In the long term as a company we will be looking to apply our expertise to other government procurement processes beyond PFI.


Name Matthew Pullen
Age 31
Current job Associate director at specialist PFI consultant Rock Consulting
Employment history Following an architecture degree, joined architect PDA Partnership in Manchester. Moved into its project management consultancy team before joining Rock Consulting in 1998
Lives Richmond, Surrey
Interests Golf and sports cars – he drives a Lotus