Rising to the leadership challenge of a new digital era

The right leadership is crucial in helping businesses rise to the challenges posed by a new digital era and a changing industry and workplace, says Lara Potter of Arcadis.

The digital challenge and how it interacts with skills is at the core of the activity and programme of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering’s (ACE) Future Skills group. The group was set up to lead the work supporting the sector to adapt to meet the challenges of a changing industry and workplace. 

Key challenges like, how do we navigate the skills gap? And how do ACE members working in the built environment seize the new opportunities created? In response, the industry has developed new roles, new career paths and different ways of working. It has introduced communities of practice and virtual networks, opened digital academies and upped training. 

Meanwhile expectations from clients and other stakeholders have increased dramatically. Consultancy and engineering firms now need to increase productivity, offer real-time reporting, meet net zero ambitions, provide optioneering of solutions and price for unknowns.

While businesses have proactively accepted the challenge head on, the fact remains that in an informal ACE member survey we recently conducted, the vast majority of respondents felt that they were only “somewhat” successful at using technology to ensure their business is digitally competitive in the future. 

Despite the time, effort and – yes – money spent on the issue, they’re concerned about meeting these new requirements, about risk around innovation, changing business models, demonstrating value and the compatibility of systems and processes. 

With this in mind we created a series of events to provide tangible support which would help all ACE members, no matter their size. Our Leadership in the Digital Age masterclasses help members navigate the digital skills gaps in the workforce, rise to digital challenges and create new opportunities for consultancies working in the built environment, and individuals too.

Attendees at our first masterclass on people, held before the summer break, left with approaches to support the leadership of high-performing remote teams, as well as some of the models which help contextualise stages of change. Jane Grant and Emily Mahoney shared their experiences of tackling these issues at WSP with participants. 

Our upcoming sessions focusing on technology on 21 September and clients on 20 October (details below) will be similar in that they will allow attendees to go back to their companies with clear strategies, approaches and tools that they can use, as well as firm ideas on the next practical steps to take. The free-to-attend sessions are interactive and led by experts with great experiences to share.

We are only at the start of the industry’s incredible digital journey and while there is a long and winding road ahead, no one wants to waste time with U-turns and dead ends. Ensuring your organisation has the right leadership in place for a new digital era is key to avoiding these pitfalls.

Lara Potter is director, workforce for the future at Arcadis and chair of ACE’s Future Skills group.

Click here to book for the Leadership in a Digital Age – Technology masterclass on Tuesday 21 September 2021 at 12 noon.

Click here to book for the Leadership in a Leadership in a Digital Age - Clients masterclass on Wednesday 20 October 2021 at 12 noon