Wednesday, December 9, 2020

BESA podcast dives deep

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) has launched a podcast series that offers in-depth analysis of the most pressing issues confronting the building services industry.

Available free of charge on all major digital platforms including Apple, Spotify, Google and Alexa, the BESA Podcast features chief executive David Frise in conversation with a range of leading figures able to provide unique insights into the many challenges and developments facing the sector in 2021.

“In this series, we sit down with a range of movers and shakers to hear what they think about the state of our industry and what they expect to see change,” said Frise. “In an uncertain world, we want to highlight what's going to impact your business and your career.”

Two episodes are already available and more are in the pipeline. The first features Chandru Dissanayeke – the civil servant charged with delivering the ‘once in a generation’ reforms to building safety prompted by the Hackitt Review.

Dissanayeke does not conform to the stereotypical dry image of a government functionary and provides a lively insight into the fundamental changes now confronting the industry due to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

As director of building safety reform at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), his determination to avoid similar disasters in the future comes through loud and clear in the podcast.


He explains that legislation should be a ‘living’ issue that remains relevant to everyone working in the sector; adding that the proposed Building Safety Bill and the appointment of new industry regulators will have a profound impact on all contractors.

“Legislation must matter, and people must read it and understand it – instead of thinking it was written a long time ago and is no longer relevant,” he tells Frise. “There will be a duty of care on the contractor and they will be expected to call out bad practices when they see them,” he adds; before going on to explain how the planning, construction and occupation ‘gateways’ will create a whole new culture around project delivery.

“They are stop/go gateways so you can make your life easy if you do the right things from the start,” says Dissanayeke.

He explains that, ultimately, construction is about the people who inhabit the buildings and companies should not need financial incentives or the threat of penalties to do the right thing.

“Isn’t it sad that we might have a society that doesn’t care enough about the buildings occupied by our children and grandchildren?” he asks. “Why do we need to have more incentive than that?”

In the second podcast, David Frise is joined by Ann Bentley – a veteran of 35 years in the industry and author of the ‘Procurement for Value’ report for the Construction Leadership Council, which is already having a profound impact on the way projects are procured.

Bentley is a global board director at the consultant Rider Levett Bucknall, but during the course of the conversation it becomes increasingly baffling as to how she fits in a ‘day job’ due to the range and volume of her other commitments, which are all part of her determination to “make the industry a better place”.

She trained as a civil engineer at a time when very few women were even considering engineering as a career and reflects on what has changed since. As she points out, she entered the industry at a time when it was still legal to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job.

Bentley argues that, when things go well, there are few jobs more rewarding than construction, but we need to see “more of the good and less of the bad”.

“Most of us that work in construction can talk about brilliant things and appalling things,” she tells Frise. “When you are on the crest of the wave…there isn’t another industry that could give you the same sense of satisfaction, but the downside where people are brutalised and not paid properly is just awful.”

She believes the ‘culture’ of construction is changing and that better and fairer times lie ahead.

To listen in search for the ‘BESA Podcast’ on your usual podcast platform or go to:


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