Bilfinger UK – Engineering & Industry
Bilfinger UK brings engineering & industrial services together to help boost the UK’s green economy.
Bilfinger UK is a leading engineering and industrial services company that works across a range of sectors, including chemical & petrochemical, nuclear, oil & gas, pharmaceuticals & biopharma, power & energy and water. The company offers the entire broad range of services that blue-chip companies need, from feasibility studies, to construction, commissioning, maintenance and operating plants and facilities.
“We provide the full life cycle from when you first think about what you need in a plant to decommissioning at the end of its life,” says Jane Atkinson CBE, Executive Director of Engineering & Automation for the company. “We provide technical trade and engineering skills across all elements of industry. We are the only people in the UK with that breadth of services. Our customers have several options with our service offering, ranging from a single service to a fully bundled package. Whatever the client needs we provide. For us, the bundled service is the best. Our ‘one-stop shop’ offering delivers a reduction in risk, complexity and cost to our customer whilst increasing available work to us.”
A New Brand
Bilfinger UK are able to offer a broad and all-encompassing array of services following the recent merger which took place in 2018 bringing Bilfinger Industrial Services and Bilfinger Industrial Automation Services together to form a single £140 million turnover business, Bilfinger UK.
“We brought those two brands together to create this large multidisciplinary, technically complex services company. The challenge is on the public-facing marketing side,” Atkinson says. “We are very well known in the UK as services provider but less so for our engineering, automation and digital businesses. Bilfinger UK is a recognised brand, but some of our offering is less well known in the UK, so we have launched a marketing push to change that.”
Spreading that message, and communicating that new identity and offering is a challenge embraced across the company.
“Our employees are the best marketers and salespeople we have, so it’s about making them feel like one team,” Atkinson says. “We opened our new office that’s really modern with break areas and amenities to help our employees interact with each other and understand the services we sell. So that was our first starting point.”
From here Bilfinger UK is looking at conferences, talking to its current customer base across the entire scope of the business, asking them what they need and telling them about the new, combined company’s capabilities.
“It’s a really exciting time. We’ve done a lot of moving our people between different internal business units, so our engineering team know how we fabricate things and manage our site services and vice versa. It’s been really good, really energetic,” Atkinson explains. “Now we’re on the cusp of doing great things.”
The Best Out of Everyone
It is clear talking to Atkinson that she has a great deal of faith in her team, and that faith is not unfounded.
“We want to attract the best talent, particularly in the engineering sector. The UK labour pipeline is not as healthy as we would like it, so we are working to grow that pool,” she says. “We do a couple of things. We focus on what the employees and potential recruits want from their careers. We have many training programs to develop different talents and, help them with accreditations, which is attractive in itself.”
That promise of offering investment into recruits careers is one Bilfinger UK delivers on.
“It is about understanding what our employees need and what our company needs, and it is about upskilling and empowering our workforce,” Atkinson tells us. “If they want to travel, within the business we give people the opportunity to continue their professional development that way. If they need training, we provide that. It’s all really important in retaining our employees.”
It pays off. There are employees working for Bilfinger UK now who started out as apprentices, moving up the business to senior and technical roles. By showcasing those individuals Bilfinger UK can demonstrate to new employees that they can join the company spend their whole career there.
“It’s a brilliant story,” Atkinson says.
Career progression is not the only thing that Bilfinger UK offers, however. Atkinson also insists it is important the company support its employees when they need it.
“We’ve been doing quite a bit of work on mental health awareness, working with the charity Mates In Mind, bringing new initiatives into the business,” Atkinson explains. “We have been training our management team to identify mental health issues. We’re also training people in discussing those difficult things. Particularly in a male-dominated industry, it can be a challenge asking ‘How do you get people to open up?’ It isn’t just about the employee at work but about when they went home, when they travel, how to support their family. We’re creating a real groundswell within the company. We have created a fully confidential support system that’s been really good, and led to some really interesting conversations.”
Bilfinger UK works with other companies across the sector to promote solutions for a cleaner, and greener economy. This is one of the key reasons Bilfinger UK has joined the Sizewell C Consortium, a group of leading British-based companies and trade unions backing the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power plant construction project. In addition to our role in the consortium, Bilfinger UK has joined the North West Hydrogen Alliance, amongst other major organisations aligned to the UK Industrial Cluster Mission in support of the UK’s growing hydrogen economy.
Bilfinger UK also supports communities and industry in other ways.
“From a personal perspective in particular in my side of the business we’ve done a lot of STEM activities, going into schools talking about opportunities in engineering, how to get an apprenticeship and so on,” Atkinson says.
One thing that Atkinson can tell those children is that Bilfinger UK is a company in a sector where extremely exciting things are happening right now.
“A lot is going on in the energy transition sector, greening up energy in the UK,” Atkinson says. “We’re spending a lot of time focusing on carbon capture, waste transformation, and future fuels such as hydrogen, that’s where we see our future direction. There is a lot of discussion around our reliance on fossil fuels. We’re at the front of that, asking what a great future looks like, and how we can do more business in that sector.”