Happold Happenings

Buro Happold’s new regional director Roger Nickells tells The Big Project how he plans to spearhead the firm’s growth in the Middle East construction market

Last month, Roger Nickells joined consulting engineering firm Buro Happold as Middle East regional director from his former role as Dubai office director at Atkins. Nickells brings to the role experience of a wide variety of high-profile projects in the Middle East, including Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Wild Wadi Water Park, and ShangriLa’s Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa in Muscat.

“I want to help the team build on the firm’s deep knowledge and experience of the Middle East market and its reputation for delivering outstanding consultancy advice and integrated project design and management while growing its geographical and sector reach,” he said.

The appointment forms part of the firm’s agenda to deliver existing projects and pursue new markets in the region, which has also seen Robert Okpala named as Buro Happold’s new regional discipline leader for Building Environment and Martin Tillman join to lead its transportation team.

Meanwhile, a new country director for Saudi Arabia, Oliver Plunkett, has been brought onboard and former country director Phil Dalglish has been promoted to business development director.

“The practice has a lot of work in the region and has since it was established. As the projects get bigger it makes sense to strengthen the team to give the best service and also to position the company to be able to take advantage of the market,” Nickells explained to The Big Project, he added that the business is “selectively hiring” staff to strengthen the management and the whole team.

The business is selectively hiring staff to strengthen the management and the whole team”


“These appointments are a clear sign of our commitment to international clients, as well as the Middle East market, where we have been active since the practice was founded in 1976,” Steve Brown, managing director for the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa zone said in a recent statement.

Buro Happold’s Riyadh-based chairman and a founding partner Rod Macdonald added: “Roger and the new senior management team will drive our ambitious growth plans for the Middle East business.”

“The new team will provide a strong platform for the future growth of the practice in the region, as we plan to grow our network of offices and increase the size, reach and expertise of our established teams in response to growing client demand.”

Growth areas

Speaking of Buro Happold’s Saudi Arabia projects, Nickells commented that the group’s portfolio was “very strong there”, naming the King Abdullah Financial District as one of its key developments.

“Operating in Riyadh poses challenges because of the speed of construction, the complexity of the projects and in terms of supporting our staff on the ground there, but the business has been there for a long time so we’ve got used to it,” he said.

Nickells has also identified Qatar as a market for expansion: “We have many new projects in Qatar, we’re building our portfolio of work there”.

However, he added that 2011 expansion targets were still being worked on and he was looking at a variety of ways to “take the business forward”.

“The main objective currently is helping teams deliver the ongoing projects, including Abu Dhabi Media Zone, and helping the company grow into other areas,” said Nickells, adding that the Middle East was a key market in Buro Happold’s long-term international agenda.

“We will continue being involved in exhibitions in the region; watching, learning and engaging in conversations on moving the construction industry forward. We’re particularly interested in modular construction and sustainability.”


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