Job spotlight – Louise Townsend, Morgan Sindall Construction

Collaboration and working with experts is how Morgan Sindall’s head of social value and sustainability progresses her role and, she says, it’s the way forward for the industry too.
What is a typical day in your job?

There is no such thing as a ‘typical day’. Daily tasks can range from reporting and analysing performance statistics, supporting new project proposals, networking, helping my team with opportunities and challenges, to working with our senior team to set the company’s future landscape.

Overall, my role focuses on empowering our stakeholders to make a measurable contribution to improving the environment and enhancing the communities that we operate in.

Social value and sustainability are growth areas for the industry. How do you keep your knowledge up to date?

My network is key to this. By being surrounded by knowledgeable, forward-thinking experts, I can constantly learn and advance my understanding. In addition, I am part of multiple industry working groups and government panels, which ensures that I stay informed on the national agenda. 

Job spotlight Louise Townsend
Louise Townsend: “Seeing people select the more environmentally friendly and socially beneficial pathway is incredibly satisfying.”

For the construction industry to evolve, we must look at ourselves from the outside in. Being curious about the world beyond the built environment sector is key, as it can provide a different, and often highly valuable, perspective. 

What are the challenges you face?

The construction industry is a complex ecosystem and advancing the sustainability agenda requires many different stakeholders to work together, which often determines the speed at which progress is made.

Today’s industry faces myriad challenges when it comes to improving our social value and sustainability performance, such as perceived cost hikes and access to products that aren’t on the market. These will mainly be overcome by changing the mindset and behaviours of the stakeholders across the industry’s supply chain.

The Circular Twin R&D project we undertook at Morgan Sindall Construction is a great illustration of how this can work in practice. It proved that a dramatic reduction in embodied carbon doesn’t have to cost the earth, as it just requires a simple change of mindset and approach.

And what are the rewards?

Embracing ESG cannot be done alone. The most rewarding moments come when educating clients and stakeholders, allowing them to take ownership of the decision-making process. Seeing people select the more environmentally friendly, carbon-reducing and socially beneficial pathway is incredibly satisfying, especially when you see them reap the rewards.

What are your work values and goals?

Our team motto is ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. To tackle the climate crisis and evolve as an industry, we need to work together. In many ways, this chimes with the saying that ‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity’, which has been my mantra throughout my career as wherever there is a negative there also has to be a positive. In general, I believe that through tenacity, surrounding yourselves with brilliant people and a common purpose, anything is possible.

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