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Highways England director snapped up by HS2 after nine years with road body

Highways England’s director of commercial and procurement is set to join HS2 this March as the rail network prepares for a busy year of contract negotiations to ensure the line is delivered on budget and on time.

David Poole will make the move this spring to manage HS2’s procurement and supply chain teams. HS2 has an important year ahead with decisions to be made on who will be contracted to carry out work on four new stations, railway systems and supply the needed state-of-the-art trains. He joins from Highways England where, as executive director for commercial and procurement, he was responsible for a yearly spend of £3.5bn. Prior to Highways England, Poole was supply chain director at GE Aviation Systems and Flight Control Systems.

Looking ahead to his new role and reflecting on his time at Highways England, Poole said: “HS2 will transform the experience of rail travel for huge numbers of people across the UK and provide a major boost to economic growth. I am excited to be joining the project at such an important time its development and look forward to getting started. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work for Highways England during a hugely important period for the company. For me personally the last nine years have been a time of huge change, learning and growth, I am very grateful for the fantastic opportunities and support offered by friends and colleagues."

Last year, HS2 Ltd chief executive Mark Thurston said the organisation would be “looking for the best the construction industry has to offer” when it came to procurement decisions and only companies sharing its commitment to “safety, efficiency, environmental protection and value for money” would be successful.

Commenting on the appointment, Thurston said: “I am delighted to welcome David to the team. His experience of managing large scale procurement and complex supply chains will be invaluable as we continue to recruit the contractors we need to deliver the railway on time and on budget. This includes, four new stations, railway systems and the state-of-the-art trains that will run on them.”

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan has praised Poole’s efforts during his tenure. “As a highly valued member of the executive team David has taken the business through the significant changes from Highways Agency to Highways England and our subsequent growth and development,” O’Sullivan said. “He has steered the development of our supplier relationships and new contract forms which have enabled the delivery of the £15bn road investment strategy – the biggest investment in roads in a generation. I would like to warmly thank David for all he has achieved during his tenure and wish him well for the future.”

Interim arrangements are now being put in place by Highways England to lead its commercial team until a permanent successor is appointed.