Buildings and Places, Environment, ESG, People Spotlight

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a director from our Buildings+Places (B+P) business line in the United Kingdom & Ireland and providing you insight into their inspiration and work.

Tristan Bassett joined AECOM in 2018 and is a director in our B+P Transportation and Civils (T&C) team, leading the Environment Agency (EA) account and the T&C client program covering water, rail, highways, energy and aviation sectors. Tristan has 26 years’ experience undertaking commercial management and framework/client account leadership roles.

Tell us about what inspired you to join the industry.

On reflection, I didn’t specifically set out to work in the industry, it was more a case of discovering it in the early part of my career. In my first job, I was involved in some minor buildings projects and then moved into the healthcare sector where I supported the refurbishment and construction of hospitals. It was only really when I started working for the EA that my interest and involvement in civil engineering and infrastructure projects took off — working collaboratively to solve the unique nature and challenges of each project and delivering outcomes that benefitted communities was truly inspiring. That led to the last 20 years of working predominantly in the water and environment sectors on major projects and frameworks for the EA and water companies.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why?

It’s not really a ‘project’ as such, but a collection of projects. For the last four years, I’ve been leading our Client Support Framework (CSF) with the EA. We’ve delivered varied and fantastic work for the EA through the framework from core services such as project/programme management, cost/commercial management, and contract administration through to innovative digital solutions (and everything in between). During CSF, our team has provided technical solutions that have supported the EA in delivery of their capital programme and achieving the milestone of 300,000+ properties better protected from flooding.

Leading CSF has been an enriching experience. It has enabled me to see and understand the full breadth of services we can provide (I still learn something new about AECOM every day), to grow a team who is passionate in their commitment to deliver for the client, empower people to thrive in their roles and support them in their development. It’s always great to receive feedback from clients on the work our teams are doing and the positive contribution they are making. Another aspect I’ve really enjoyed is the opportunities leading CSF has given myself and others to connect with colleagues, old and new, both at the EA and within AECOM to build effective, collaborative relationships that focus on delivering for the client.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community.

I’m proud to tell people how my colleagues and I have been involved in projects that have reduced flood risk to communities. I recently took my youngest son to a rugby match in Teignmouth, and on our way I could see the Shaldon Tidal Defence Scheme on the other side of the River Teign and recalled stories of the project (he’s 16 so I’m not sure he was listening). Shaldon is a small, picturesque fishing village with a close-knit community who wanted to preserve the heritage and appearance of the village whilst reducing flooding.

The project was a pilot for the Environment Agency’s Building Trust with Communities initiative and what I remember most is how collaboratively the project team worked together and engaged with the community to ensure they were happy with the proposed solutions and design. The way the team worked minimized the impact on the local community, reused existing structures where possible and created environmental enhancements. Shaldon is one of the first major infrastructure projects I worked on, and it is great to reflect back on the positive community impact that was delivered.

Share a piece of career advice.

I’m an advocate of making strong professional connections and always advise people to grow a network and get to know colleagues and clients. Investing time in building strong, long-lasting relationships and connections is important, can help shape the environment you work in and support your development.

Also, don’t be too fixed on what your career path looks like too early in your career. It’s important to keep developing yourself and be open to new opportunities/challenges. The workplace and work environment are constantly changing and evolving, often at a fast pace. Being adaptable, open-minded, and having a desire to continually learn and develop yourself is more likely to help you shape your career path.

Originally published Jun 7, 2023

Author: Tristan Bassett