Jacobs Annual Conference at Aston

Jacobs Conference 2013
We recently hosted our joint Aston Business School Centre for Executive Development / Jacobs Annual Conference, entitled ‘Light at the end of the tunnel….?’

Attended by around 130 delegates, the conference hosted eight speakers with topics ranging from ‘The Greater Birmingham Project’, ‘Energy Efficiency’ through to ‘Transport Devolution’.

The conference was opened by Professor Nigel Driffield, Interim Dean of Aston Business School, who welcomed the delegates and then moved on to share his experience of working with Lord Heseltine on the Greater Birmingham Project – the leading initiative to implement the key recommendations of ‘No Stone Unturned’.

The next presentation was a joint affair from John Hatton, Chief Commercial Officer of Alpheon Energy and Robert Ryan of Viridor Waste Management.  John described the growing importance of energy efficiency for matching energy demand growth with supply in commercial and public organisations, and Robert illustrated the range of energy recovery technologies and models in use in the waste management industry.

Third on the bill was Richard Perry, Deputy Head of the Northern Engagement Team for the Department for Transport.  Richard characterised the current moves to transfer power from Whitehall to Town Hall as a shift from Sir Humphrey to Citizen Smith.

Martin Yardley, Chief Executive of Coventry & Warwickshire LEP and Nicola Palmer of Arcus Infrastructure were the second pairing of the day, focussing on Infrastructure Funding, Economic Development and City Deals.  Martin began with a reminder of the LEPs original specification and that it is no more detailed than a one and a half page letter from the Secretary of State. However their influence and impact has grown rapidly!  Nicola highlighted the relatively limited amount of private investment, apart from PFI, in UK road infrastructure due to the lack of continuity in planning, programming and funding.

The final presentation of the conference was delivered by Professor Tim Baines of the Operations and Information Management Group at Aston Business School.  Tim took us ‘Outside the Box’ to think about how manufacturers can build revenue by delivering joined up produce-service systems in a process he calls ‘Servitisation’.

The overview and thanks came from Bob Duff, Group Vice President of Jacobs UK Limited.  Bob noted that the economic news sometimes made it difficult to believe that there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ but he felt that the presentations delivered by the speakers gave real grounds for optimism. 

Bob left the audience with the thought that the need to evolve and innovate is greater than ever, and the appetite for change and fresh collaboration is there to be harnessed.

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