Coverdale Barclay is delighted to welcome Adam Charles to our team. Adam is a stakeholder engagement specialist, with extensive experience across a number of major infrastructure projects. We asked Adam to tell us more about his experience, and what he thinks makes for successful stakeholder and community engagement:
What has been your career highlight so far?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a number of high-profile stakeholder engagement projects in my career: HS2 and The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway are two notable examples. Not only were they technically complex but both schemes had a vast geographical span meaning I engaged with a variety of stakeholders in different ways.
But the highlight of my career thus far is working on the renaming of Black Boy Lane whilst I was at Haringey Council. It was extremely politically sensitive and personally poignant. I discovered my capacity for patience, and my ability to always keep the project objectives front-of-mind. I gained so much valuable experience, and employed many of the skills I learned whilst studying for my Master’s degree in Political Communication.
As we emerge from the pandemic, what do you think are the biggest challenges for effective stakeholder and community engagement this year?
One of the biggest challenges I envisage is how to persuade stakeholders that our projects are still, and in many cases more, valuable. The Covid-19 pandemic was devastating for parts of the UK economy, with GDP falling at a greater rate than it did during than the financial crash in 2008.
Funding for projects will be under an even bigger microscope, particularly those that are local authority-led. The right messaging, that allows stakeholders to buy into the long-term vision, will be critical.
Do you have any Cardinal Rules for successful stakeholder engagement?
‘The medium is the message’ – a short quip I learned during my Master’s degree which has stuck with me ever since. Essentially it means that how something is said is just as important as what is being said. I use it to remind myself that intonation and delivery are hugely significant when engaging with stakeholders.