Industry tributes to Phill Cartwright

Professor Phill Cartwright, who was an ACE advisory board member, has died age 54.

Professor Phill Cartwright, a leading light of innovation in the UK’s manufacturing, aerospace and construction industries, and advisory board member at the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), has sadly died at the age of 54.

Over the last 35 years, Cartwright championed the role of innovation and new technology in a number of UK industries, supporting the realisation of radical new approaches across a number of different businesses, organisations and trade bodies in some of the UK’s most strategic important industries.

As well as his role as an advisory board member at ACE, he was chairman of Lontra and a senior advisor to consultancy and construction firm Mace.

ACE chair Dave Beddell said: “On behalf of the members, board and staff I would like to pay tribute to Phill who worked closely with ACE to help develop some of the thinking around the Future of Consultancy campaign. Academia, engineering and industry has not only lost a great intellect who helped to nurture great ideas and projects, but a genuine people person who was generous with his time and developed talented people across the industries he worked in.”

Across a long career across different UK industries, Cartwright spent six years as head of electrical power and control systems at Rolls-Royce, as well as roles delivering international power and energy infrastructure projects, integrated new technologies and manufacturing processes in China, India, Brazil and USA with ABB, Alstom and Areva.

He headed up the electrical power and control systems group at Rolls-Royce, providing the foundations for the company’s leading role in the next era of aviation, and building capability across the aerospace and marine divisions.

When he left Rolls-Royce in 2012, he left behind a strong team of electrical systems engineers, and an electrical systems activity that spanned the UK, USA, Norway, Germany and Singapore.

In the UK construction industry, he took a leading role in the transformation of the sector, supporting the introduction of modern methods of construction and adopting best practise from the automotive and manufacturing industries. He served as director of the engineering excellence group for Laing O’Rourke and supported the government’s intervention in high value manufacturing as chief technology officer for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult between 2015 and 2017.

He was the founding chair of the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) Power Sector Executive and has been an active member and adviser to the UK government’s Nuclear Industry Council. He was a Fellow of the IET, an active visiting Professor in Energy Systems at The University of Manchester – where he studied for his PhD in the early 2000s – and The University of Strathclyde, the author of over 300 technical publications, co-author of two books and several patents related to the mathematical modelling, control and integration of energy systems.

He played a crucial role in the delivery of a number of high-profile UK construction and engineering projects. This included the City of London’s distinctive Leadenhall Building, which was built ahead of schedule thanks to the heavy use of off-site construction techniques. The Manchester Metrolink, another project in which he had a hand, was also completed early, thanks in no small part to the use of virtual design and production techniques more commonly associated with the automotive industry.

His career also included an academic position as Professor of Practice in Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, helping to raise the national and international profile of the high-level research undertaken at Loughborough.

Before entering industry, Cartwright joined the Royal Engineers straight from school, with no qualifications and stayed for five years, completing his service with an ‘Exemplary and Honourable Record’, something he was very proud of. When he left he spent a short time as a London bus driver before starting to study at Staffordshire University, where he completed a foundation course and an undergraduate degree, graduating in 1996.

Alongside his sharp intellect and achievements, he will be remembered by his colleagues and friends as humble, generous with his time and genuinely supportive of developing talented people across the organisations he worked with and for. 

Mark Reynolds, chief executive of Mace Group, said: “Phill has had a huge influence on the UK construction and manufacturing industries over a long and successful career. As an advocate for innovation and change, our sector owes him a huge debt of gratitude for helping us to transform our delivery. He will be hugely missed, and his impact will continue to be felt for years to come.” 

Steve Lindsey, chief executive officer of Lontra, said: “When I first met Phill, he told me that “Working hard, working with inspirational people and delivering things that others think are impossible is exciting.” As chairman, Phill made a point of knowing everyone at Lontra and retained a heart-warmingly positive outlook on everything. He always took time to help people and its only with his untimely passing that I’ve discovered how many people he was mentoring, far beyond our company. 

“We will continue Phill’s mantra of “Working hard, working with inspirational people, and delivering things that others think are impossible”, as Phill told me “we will change the world with innovation and tenacity.” 

Professor Malcolm Cook, acting dean for the school of architecture, building and civil engineering at Loughborough University, said: “Phill was a true gentlemen and highly respected colleague in our school, opening doors that provided great opportunities for our staff. His leadership and gentle but effective manner, will be sorely missed.”

Cartwright is survived by his wife, Emily, his daughter Pippa and his sons Harry and Edward.

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