Graham Kean, new sector head for government in the UK at EC Harris, talks to Matthew Parsons about his plans for the company and how size can be a problem when dealing with public sector projects
Why did you leave Mouchel Parkman?
It was a tough decision. I was approached by EC Harris about a year ago and had discussions over that period. I think EC Harris has grown in leaps and bounds and is an exciting place to be. I had been at Mouchel Parkman for 10 years.
It is a super business and I was also involved in the flotation.
What are your priorities in your new role?
As EC Harris is already big in the public sector, I’ll first spend time looking at the client base and who we can focus on and work longer with. I’ll then look at the sort of property they have and at strategic asset management, to help unlock value. It’s about developing communities and long-term relationships, and making a difference.
What are the problems with working in the government sector?
The scale of the projects can be a problem. There is massive investment and you have to pull all of these different skills together. The biggest challenge is getting it right, it needs a bit of thought and planning. All authorities are under pressure and in a heavily regulated environment. But we can eke out value – there are a lot of ex-local authority people at EC Harris.
Do you plan to grow geographically?
EC Harris already operates in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. But there is so much work in England at the moment, so much government spending going on. But I think in one or two years EC Harris will have some super opportunities in the Middle East using the firm’s network. Also possibly more work in Germany looking at education and health. And housing in Spain, working with the government over there.
What interesting projects are you currently working on?
I think the Olympics is really interesting.
EC Harris is already advising the government and local boroughs on how to ensure that after 2012 the work keeps going.