Incoming boss Leo Quinn pledges to “restore” the contracting giant to “its rightful place on the global stage”

Leo Quinn Balfour Beatty

Incoming Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn has pledged to take “bold” and “brave” decisions to “restore Balfour Beatty to its rightful place on the global stage”.

In a letter to the firm’s 40,000 staff Quinn summarised what his approach would be when managing the firm. The letter, seen by Building, follows the announcement of Quinn’s appointment by Balfour Beatty this morning.

Quinn is currently chief executive of listed defence technology contractor Qinetiq, and will join Balfour Beatty from January 1 next year.

Quinn said he would “invest for growth beyond the near and now” and “focus on our strengths, our customers and the longer term”.

He said he “valued candour and transparency”, which he said was “pivotal” to the firm’s success and urged staff to send him feedback on the firm’s direction to “hold me accountable to the strategy I set in place”.

Quinn acknowledged that the firm had suffered “major setbacks recently” with a string of profit warnings. He said: “This is a tough time, even for those not directly affected, and I want to get it behind us.”

Quinn added: “Too much time is spent looking over shoulders (and under feet) and generally this is not helpful. We must learn from past mistakes, but not stagnate or become paralysed.

“Our task is clear. The first priority is to deal with the present and deliver on today’s promises. Second, we must look forward and make sure that we are the supplier of choice for the next job.”

He said: “My commitment to you is this: I will restore Balfour Beatty to its rightful place on the global stage and do this company of people proud.”

The appointment is seen as key for Balfour Beatty which has gone through a turbulent few years, which have seen it issue multiple profit warnings, the departure of two chief executives and the impending departure of executive chairman Steve Marshall.

Educated at Imperial College, London and Portsmouth University, Quinn holds an MSc in Management Science and a BSc in Civil Engineering. He began his career at Balfour Beatty in 1979 as a civil engineer in the UK construction services business.

Prior to working at Qinetiq, Quinn was chief executive of banknote publisher De La Rue from 2004-2008, and has spent time in senior roles at technology firms Honeywell and Invensys.

Steve Marshall said he was “delighted” to welcome Quinn to Balfour Beatty, and that he had the “depth and breadth of experience” to turn the company around. “Leo is an outstanding individual with an excellent track record in improving the performance of major international businesses. I am confident that Balfour Beatty will thrive under Leo’s leadership,” he said.