Jamie Cole joined WES Ltd as Operations Director in July 2018. He takes time out of his busy schedule to share his plans for growth and what he sees as the biggest opportunities for WES and their utility clients.
Jamie Coles’ early career as a Gas Engineer saw him deal with safety critical projects. He later diversified into electrical, water and then planned works within property services. But it was when he moved to Kier that gave him a real insight into the utility sector and why he was a great fit for this key role at WES.
What attracted you to join WES?
Having spent a lot of time working for large corporates it looked like a genuinely refreshing opportunity to move to a company that has a clear growth plan as well as the autonomy to focus on the overall business strategy.
What areas have you been involved in since you joined?
So far, I have concentrated on operational efficiencies and laying the ground work for our future growth plans. I am excited because WES is in a great position for growth but there are a few areas that I am working on to create a more solid base.
I am assessing and establishing strong controls for operational management and productivity. I expect a few growing pains along the way, but this excites me as it’s all fixable and will improve how we operate.
To date, I have been mainly involved in larger projects to facilitate products are delivered to site on time, that field staff are fully briefed and engaged with the client and that the process between build and commission is as smooth and swift as possible.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
From a personal perspective, it’s been understanding the complexities of what we do. The products and processes themselves can be quite technical. There are some very clever people here at WES and the technical language takes some getting used to. Operationally, nothing has shocked or surprised me so far so that’s good.
What are you looking forward to being involved in?
I came on board to take ownership of the Service and Hire part of the business. There is also a great opportunity to bring the Maintenance business to life. I am looking forward to growing this part of the business and building a plan to do so. Undoubtedly, it’s an area that we want to grow by at least 20% and will have significant focus in 2019.
We will also be concentrating on predictive and preventative maintenance and plan to make this a large part of the WES offering. Part of my broader remit is to research and plan what these maintenance plans might be. For example, an annual plan might include a certain number of visits per year to change key elements of the process on a preventative basis. I want to understand the balance between cost and number of visits combined with the client’s needs as to how best we achieve an outstanding offering. I will be building two business plans; one for waste water and one for fresh water. Both have very different needs and I look forward to building maintenance solutions for both.
What excites you about the coming years at WES?
I am really excited about the company’s five-year plan. It’s a big plan with lots of exciting opportunities along the way. I am really looking forward to having a key role in the research, planning and building of the plan; enabling the structures and the processes in order to achieve our goals.
I am extremely happy and enthusiastic about having the autonomy to do what needs to be done. The coming years will allow me to have significant influence over the direction of the company. I have a broad remit and can build my own role and team. I love the ethos of the business. We are in a strong position, are forward-thinking and are able to invest substantially back into the company which will benefit the business and the customers long term. I am excited to make my own mark in the business and to really make a difference.
What excites you about the utilities sector at the moment?
This sector is in an interesting period. All major water companies have declared high expenditure for the next AMP (Asset management Period.) AMP7 which relates to 2020 – 2025 and will see a huge focus on investment in infrastructure. For example, Thames Water have declared a £1bn spend over the five years. We’re yet to understand if this investment will be spent in pumping systems but AMP7 will certainly contribute to the growth plans we have at WES.
What is the culture like at WES?
I love the culture in our workplace as it’s a very warm and friendly environment with a family feel. What’s great is we are all very inclusive and work well together.
What is your normal day like at WES?
I am based in the office at Basingstoke, but actually, I spend a lot of time in the field. In general, anywhere we have business I will be visiting. My days are very busy and there is lots going. Our growth plans are very exciting, and I look forward to making it happen.