Read about the winner of this year’s CEO of the Year Award


Winner: Paul Cossell 


CEO - Paul Cossell CMYK

ISG’s chief executive is a surveyor by background, with more than 25 years’ experience in the built environment – having worked across corporate real estate, new-build, refurbishment and fit-out projects. Cossell joined ISG as a senior financial manager in 1996 and was appointed group managing director responsible for ISG’s commercial  office fit-out and engineering services business in 2010. In 2016 he was named ISG’s CEO, months after the company was taken over by Cathexis UK, a US-owned  investment fund, in a move that saw the company delisted from the London Stock Exchange. Since taking the top job he has overseen a turnaround that has seen ISG  shoot up Building’s Top 150 Contractors and Housebuilders ranking.This year the firm moved into third spot based on contracting turnover, up from 17th in 2018. Some of ISG’s big project wins while Cossell has been at the helm include a £50m deal to expand Lord’s cricket ground and a £110m job building UCL’s new centre for neurology.

Building Awards 2019 strap


Charlie Cornish

Manchester Airports Group

Cornish, chief executive of Manchester Airports Group for nearly a decade, is overseeing the £1bn overhaul of Manchester airport and the extensive capital programme at London Stansted. The group also owns East Midlands airport in Leicestershire. Building work on the £1bn Manchester Airport Transformation Programme began last year, with Laing O’Rourke named as main contractor for the four-year job in 2017. The programme is made up of a series of enhancements, including more than doubling the size of terminal two. During his time in charge at the group, Cornish has also overseen the planning of the £600m redevelopment of Stansted, set to take place over five  years. The centrepiece of this project, which will be the airport’s biggest upgrade in passenger facilities since the original terminal was completed in 1991, is the £130m Pascall + Watson-designed arrivals terminal. Once the new arrivals terminal has been completed, the existing Foster + Partners-designed terminal will be reconfigured to  become dedicated to departures only.

Leo Quinn

Balfour Beatty

Quinn was appointed group chief  executive in January 2015, returning to the company where he started his career as a civil engineer, and has been spearheading an  overhaul of the business ever since. In its last set of results, published in March, the country’s biggest contractor reported it is now reaching the targets set in Quinn’s plan  to revamp the business, called Build to Last, which he began shortly after rejoining the firm four years ago. When he arrived it had close to 100 problem contracts on its books, but the firm says only five of these remain. Margins at its UK, US and support services businesses are now all within the target ranges set by Quinn, with UK  construction reporting an underlying margin of 2.4% during the second half of 2018. Recent project wins include the £1bn deal to build HS2’s Old Oak Common station in  joint venture with Vinci and Systra.