Interview: Simon Diggle, strategic supplier development, Highways England

Infrastructure Intelligence talks to Simon Diggle, the man tasked with promoting excellence and collaboration throughout Highways England’s supply chain, and the organisation’s supplier awards.

Simon Diggle, Highways England

Why does HE stage the awards?

Our supply chain is fundamental to our business. There’s a huge amount of great work delivered by our suppliers that deserves recognition and should be celebrated, especially for smaller companies. We want to showcase those who are demonstrating excellence and share this across our supply chain. 

How are the awards different to last year?

Highways England is a different organisation with a huge programme of investment to deliver. We are mobilising ourselves and our supply chain to ensure that we collectively deliver services to improve journeys and underpin economic growth. 

Our awards have developed to focus on these future challenges. We have introduced a ‘Communities’ category this year to reflect the growing challenges of understanding communities’ needs and early engagement. We are also highlighting the importance of bringing in and growing talented people from different sources and growing their skills.

Are there limits to the number of submissions allowed per supplier?

No, the focus is on quality and impact. We encourage suppliers to enter all their best projects, practices and innovations that have had a positive influence in the eight categories.

Are the awards aimed mainly at your big projects and big contractors?

No, the awards are open to the whole of our extended supply chain. We have had some notable successes from small and medium sized companies in previous years and want to build on this. Several of our direct suppliers have made joint submissions with smaller companies, or recommended them for awards. It’s great to see these collaborative efforts rewarded through our scheme.

Which winner do you particularly remember from last year and why?

A strong theme from the award submissions is the feeling of pride and passion that people have for their work, from pride in technical excellence to a passion for excellent customer service. It’s great to be able to recognise that commitment across all of our business areas each year. We are starting to see some suppliers getting to grips with the cultural challenges around equality and diversity. There is much more to do as we continue to build the skills and capabilities needed for future success

What will Highways England do with the innovations uncovered by the award? 

We promote and publicise the companies that have won or achieved commendation through the scheme. The innovations and best practice are shared across Highways England and our supply chain.

Entries to the supplier recognition scheme are open until 25 September. Full guidance and entry forms can be found on the Highways England section of GOV.UK

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