The Coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on our communities and how we all live, so we took the opportunity to touch-base with David Fitzsimons to understand how the onset of the virus has impacted Altrad’s nuclear and projects business.
Dave, we appreciate that it is a challenging time for everyone, in every walk of life, but could you explain how the current situation has affected your part of the Altrad business?
Different markets pose varying challenges. We operate across a wide-range of industries, some of which are critical infrastructure sites that provide power and other vital services to our communities, and others that are of a lower significance at this present time, but also important, such as new-build construction projects.
The situation on each site is very different and our clients are adopting different strategies to manage during these unprecedented times. Some of our clients have decided to suspend all works and remove all our personnel from site, others are maintaining critical workers only, and a small proportion are trying to manage normally, but with increased measures in place to ensure the welfare and safety of all site personnel.
As you can imagine the logistics of these arrangements are challenging and are changing daily, so it is putting increased pressure onto the teams.
How have your team managed to cope during this period of change and uncertainty?
I’m deeply privileged to work with such a competent and understanding group of people. I’ve been overwhelmed by their proactivity, clarity of thought, and flexibility as these events have unfolded. The successful times are easy to manage; however, these challenges have demonstrated the strength and resilience within the team.
At times, we have had to make a number of difficult decisions, but I believe we have made them for the right reasons. These decisions have not been taken lightly, and we sympathise with those employees adversely affected. Hopefully we will all benefit from the actions taken in the longer term.
It should be recognised that everyone within the team is doing a sterling job. They have all stepped up, often going beyond what could have been expected. For that, I am extremely grateful.
What major challenge are you facing right now?
As we all adapt to different ways of working, with many working remotely, one of the challenges is to maintain a healthy level of communication across the business. Things we take for granted when continuously working together, like checking in with our teams – making sure that everyone is well and being productive, can often be overlooked.
We are working to ensure we communicate regularly and effectively across the organisation; however, we should not forget the physical and mental wellbeing of our people at this time. Working under additional pressure, and often to different work patterns, can have a detrimental effect. Let’s take the time to ensure we are all in good health and are coping, by checking in on a regular basis.
How long do you think it will be until we can resume normal working, and what will the future look like?
On the duration, it’s difficult to know; these are unprecedented times. In the interim, we have to continue to manage the business to the best of our ability, to navigate the storm by staying safe, protecting employment and preserving our financial resources.
As for the future, I am excited by our direction of travel. I look forward to our site work activities resuming, and thereafter transitioning towards our growth agenda. We are currently developing our strategy for the next five years, which we will roll out when a sense of normality resumes. “Our drive to 2025” strategy contains an impressive growth trajectory, which will produce considerable growth and opportunities for us all.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
I am hoping the worst of this crisis will soon be over, in that we see a return to near normality, so we can all enjoy a quality of life balance, and that we can once again get back to running our business efficiently whilst delivering high levels of value to our clients – followed shortly thereafter by the launch of our new growth-driven strategy.
As I mentioned previously, our teams have done an incredible job and I am extremely proud of how they have reacted.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their commitment and dedication, during what has been an unprecedented time for everyone. Stay safe and keep well.