Professor Denise Bower

Profile

Denise is the Executive Director of the Major Projects Association (MPA) and Professor of Engineering Project Management at the University of Leeds. The purpose of the MPA is to improve the initiation and delivery of major projects through the interaction of members from all sectors in sharing experience, knowledge and ideas. She is a on the Board of the National Skills Academy for Rail Engineers (NSARE), a member of the Infrastructure Client Group, Chair of the Capacity Building and Professionalism Panels and member of Council at the Institution of Civil Engineers and a member of at all party Parliamentary Group on Smart Cities. Denise was a judge for the prestigious Wolfson Economics Prize 2014 which is the second largest economics prize after the Nobel Prize and she was a member of Construction Industry Strategy Advisory Council that wrote Construction 2025 (an industrial strategy for the construction sector); the Infrastructure State of the Nation Scorecard Steering Group and the IUK Cost Review Steering Group.

Denise has worked in collaboration with IPA (formerly IUK) to develop a "Project Initiation Routemap" (Routemap) to enable more informed project and programme initiation and delivery decisions. It is aimed primarily at the sponsor and client organisations that deliver major projects and programmes, long term capital investment plans and publicly procured mega-projects. Application of the Routemap on projects such as Crossrail, the Environment Agency’s Thames Estuary project and Flood and Coastal Risk Management programme, HS2, London Underground’s Station Stabilisation, Vauxhall Station and New Tube Programmes, Network Rail’s ETCS and Digital Railway programmes, Surrey County Council’s highways maintenance programme and Anglian Water's AMP6 infrastructure investment strategy have demonstrated the potential for significant savings. The same principles have been successfully applied to the NHS Integrated Digital Records Programme, the Successor Nuclear Submarine programme and NSARE.

Denise also has expertise in the articulation and development of engineering, project management and intelligent client competency. She currently has commissions from the World Bank in the areas of Institutional Development and Port Development. The Institutional Development commission aims to understand and enhance the impact of World Bank institutional development interventions on project outcomes in the transport sector in India.

She co-authored the Institution of Civil Engineers post professional review competency framework and their Intelligent Client Competency Framework.

Denise has very strong links across the academic community collaborating on teaching and research activities. She has published widely in academic journals and authored and co-authored key text books on the subject of engineering project management.

Research interests

Application of the Infrastructure Routemap and Intelligent Client Attributes: Denise worked as expert consultant with a variety of major infrastructure clients to apply the Infrastructure Procurement Routemap in conjunction with IUK. The Routemap encapsulates a common sense approach in a simple set of tools. It provides an objective assessment of the complexity of the organisation and delivery environment and also of the capability of the sponsor, client and supply chain. The identification of any misalignment between this output and the critical success factors, key risks and opportunities can be identified allowing sponsors and clients to make more informed procurement decisions. This is important because no single procurement model can be said to provide the optimum outcome for the wide range of types of infrastructure projects and programmes that exist. The effectiveness of procurement decision-making is based on selecting the correct approach to risk allocation and understanding and managing the multitude of factors that affect the complexity of the delivery environment, particularly in the infrastructure sector. Choosing a procurement strategy with little or no understanding of capability requirements will rarely result in an efficient outcome. Sponsors and clients must therefore recognise their own strengths and limitations, identify skills gaps and, more importantly, implement an improvement programme before embarking on a complex procurement and delivery planning activities.

The Routemap is not intended to be prescriptive; rather it is a reflective process. It does not lead to a single solution, but ensures that the "right‟ questions are asked at the critical junctures in the project or programme lifecycle and that the key risks attributed to the delivery approach are identified. IUK and the University of Leeds have unlocked an approach to informed decision-making that points to a step change in the delivery of major projects. The Routemap promises enormous benefits, not just in cost savings but also in ease of delivery, long term collaborations and knowledge transfer, up-skilling, reduced tendering costs and a landscape that promotes innovation. Retrospective application of the Routemap principles at Crossrail indicated the potential for savings in the order of 7-8% against original budget.

iBuild - Investigator on the £3.5M epsrc / esrc funded iBuild research project that will investigate future business models for infrastructure with an edifice remit to understand the application and relevance of a systemic approach to decisions making and through cross case thematic analysis to illustrate the benefits of the utilisation of a complex and socio technical systems approach to infrastructure initiation, planning and procurement decision making.

Other ongoing research interests in:

  • the delivery of resilient infrastructure and construction
  • the characteristics of successful public sector client organizations
  • project management education and competency
  • the management of complex and iconic projects and managing in a multi project environment
  • intelligent asset management

Construction Industry Strategy Advisory Council - Member of CISAC with a remit to cover issues related to growth and innovation; supply chain; SME engagement; skills; access to finance and overseas trade. Published Construction 2025.

Infrastructure Client Group - The group was formed to support the IUK Cost Review activity following the publication of the Infrastructure Cost Review and the National Infrastructure Plan in 2010. It has representation from a number of the major infrastructure providers in the UK including; Network Rail, HS2, Highways Agency, Environment Agency and Anglian Water, together with representatives from Academia, the ICE and HM Treasury.

ICE Member of Council and Chair of the Capacity Building and Professionalism Panels - Chair of the capacity building panel of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) that has responsibility for: describing the skills and attributes required of civil engineers at all stages of their career; ensuring that real and relevant lifelong learning is provided so that all civil engineers have access to the knowledge that their role requires; reviewing qualifications frameworks and identifying areas that will require development in the future.

Qualifications

  • BEng, Civil Engineering, UMIST
  • PhD, Project Management, UMIST

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Honorary Fellow, APM
  • National Teaching Fellow

Student education

Advanced Project Management (CIVE 5190M)

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Resilient Infrastructure

Publications:

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