Majority owner Ray O’Rourke, who turned 70 in January, has been both chief executive and chairman since December 2015 when ill-health forced Anna Stewart to stand down as chief executive.
Ray O’Rourke is now handing over the chairman’s role to 75-year-old Sir John Parker GBE FREng, who will join the Laing O’Rourke board later in the year once he has completed his term as chairman of Anglo American plc.
A Northern Irish mechanical engineer, Sir John Parker’s career has seen him take the helm of Belfast shipbuilder Harland & Wolff as chief executive in the 1980s, then Babcock International in the 1990s. His non-executive career since then has brought him seats on the boards of British Gas, National Grid Transco, British Coal, GKN, BG, Pennon, Brambles Industries, P&O Princess Cruises. He was also chairman of RMC Group from 2002 until its sale to Cemex in 2005.
Elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering as one of its youngest Fellows in 1983, Sir John has since gathered a string of titles and honorariums. He is an Elder Brother of Trinity House, a Visiting Fellow of University of Oxford, a member of the General Committee of Lloyds Register of Shipping, Vice President of The Royal Navy & Marines Charity and a governor of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. He has also been president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers, as well as Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, an Honorary Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Fuellers and the Tallow Chandlers Livery Company.
He has also served on the prime minister’s Business Council for Britain, the Defence Academy Advisory Board and the Asia Task Force.
With such a pedigree chairman, a stock market listing becomes an even stronger option for Ray O’Rourke’s exit strategy. He has already said that he plans to retire in 2020, three years from now.
Ray O’Rourke said of his new chairman: “Sir John has built up an enviable reputation across a range of industrial sectors as a leader in the boardroom, including chairman at five FTSE100 companies.
“As former president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a visiting Fellow at Oxford University, he takes a keen interest in the development of engineering technology and talent, a core value of our global business.
"I am excited to work closely with Sir John to make Laing O'Rourke the recognised leader for innovation and excellence in the construction industry."
Sir John said: "I am honoured to join such a progressive organisation, with compelling future plans. A culture of engineering excellence is deeply embedded at Laing O'Rourke. I have a deep respect for the organisation that Ray and Des O’Rourke built from scratch over the past 40 years."