Mr Sheffield handed in his notice at Kier in February after 31 years with the company. (See previous report here.) Aged 52, he had joined Kier as a graduate engineer in 1983 and rose to the top job in April 2010.
He was on an annual salary of £481,000 at Kier, with entitlement to receive a cash bonus of up to 100% of that basic salary, taking his package towards a cool million. It was clearly not enough to keep him in post.
His resignation after just four years in charge came as a surprise, especially as he had only recently led the acquisition of May Gurney. He officially departed at the end of June and starts his new job in October.
At Laing O’Rourke Paul Sheffield will have executive responsibility for leading the development and delivery of the group’s growth agenda in the United Kingdom, Canada and the Middle East. He will report to group chief executive Anna Stewart, who said: “During this period of industry transformation, there is no better person to lead the development of Laing O’Rourke’s Europe Hub than Paul Sheffield. He is a proven leader with hard core engineering and construction skills, industry vision and the ability to unite people behind that vision. His passion for how the construction industry can positively influence the world around us is exactly what Laing O’Rourke needs as we enter our next chapter of innovation and growth.
“With a broad executive remit, he will spearhead the Europe Hub strategy to get closer to our customers by delivering the inherent benefits of our unique business offering. As one of the few remaining civil engineers to lead a major international contractor, his experience of successfully running complex businesses will greatly benefit the group as we evolve our strategic focus towards expanding the opportunities to deploy our Design for Manufacture and Assembly approach.”
Commenting on his new role, Paul Sheffield said, “To make real progress towards the ambitions set out last year in the UK government’s industrial strategy for construction in 2025, businesses need to have the courage to find ways of doing things differently. The 30% time and 50% cost savings targeted will not be achieved by incremental change alone. Recent investments in innovation, manufacturing and engineering excellence at Laing O'Rourke have shown that they have the ambition to lead this change agenda and to drive it at a pace that I have not seen in any other business in the industry. I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to be at the forefront of this paradigm shift in the way our industry works, and am very much looking forward to meeting the team and getting started in October.”
Chairman Ray O’Rourke said: “We are absolutely delighted that Paul has agreed to join us and lead the development of our international businesses across the Europe Hub. He is one of the leading figures in our industry and has an outstanding reputation in business development, corporate leadership and construction delivery. The opportunity ahead for Laing O’Rourke is huge, but in order to seize it, we must have clear focus, move at pace, while continually innovating and transforming our customer offering. Paul possesses the skills and experience to help make this happen and the Board is looking forward to working with him.”