After qualifying as an Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, Allan started his career as an Electrical Apprentice at The Royal Free Hospital and worked his way up the operational ranks of Estates till he moved to capital projects. Drawn to the prospects of being part of such a major hospital rebuild programme and having the opportunity to make an impact on how healthcare meets demands for the future, Allan joined the redevelopment team.
So as the Head of infrastructure, what would a day in the life of Allan Harris look like?
My day consists of ensuring all policies and procedures are being adhered to while we are in the first stage of this exciting development, completing all briefs and reviews, ensuring that key stakeholders, designers, consultants, contractors and relevant staff are expertly engaged with, co-ordinated, briefed and managed which will enable us to develop and deliver a fit-for-purpose, safe, functional, sustainable, state-of-the-art hospital that meets our requirements and delivers the required outcomes for staff, patients, visitors and key stakeholders.
How do you feel your experience in managing past projects such as The Ebola Unit and Nightingale Hospital will help in delivering the next phase of the redevelopment of Whipps Cross Hospital?
Having gained such valuable experience on working and running such unique, high pressured and time constrained projects has provided me with the knowledge to think on my feet, act quickly, work with my team, communicate effectively and to stay on top of changing situations while having back up plans ready to go. This will help me in being able to effectively manage a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of this world class build.
What would you say are the common risk factors when working on large scale projects such as the redevelopment and how do you plan to combat them?
There are many, but for example the ‘time crunch’, also known as project schedule risk, is the risk that tasks in your project will take longer than expected. To mitigate time risk, a rule of thumb is to overestimate the time needed to complete tasks in the planning phase and build in time contingency. That way, you’ll have room for scheduling later on.
What motivates you at work?
I have always asked myself one question while I have been working within the NHS, ‘How would you feel if it was your family or friend being treated within this hospital? What service and delivery would you want them to receive within this establishment?’
What is your favourite quote and why?
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us” – Winston Churchill
For the profession I do, this quote sums up perfectly how I feel the design and construction of the buildings we build shape us all without us even being aware of it.