Clive Docwra on PPPs in Greece | McBains Cooper Group

World Finance interviews Clive Docwra, Director and Head of PPP at McBains Cooper Group, about the Attica Schools public-private partnership project in Greece

January 21, 2013

The construction of 14 school units in the Attica region of Greece was one of the first schools PPP projects in the country. McBains Cooper Group acted as lender’s technical advisor and independent certifier. Clive Docwra outlines the challenges and rewards of bringing UK expertise in the educational model to Greece, and the advantages of McBains Cooper’s interdisciplinary way of working in the successful delivery of the project.

World Finance: Tell us a bit more about this project.

Clive Docwra: The project in question is the programme of 14 schools that are being delivered in the Attica region in Greece. It’s one of the first schools projects within Greece, albeit not one of the first PPPs. It had a number of challenges, not least language, but also time constraints, which meant that we had to turn around our advice very very quickly.

And being one of the first projects of that sector in the region, it required us to bring to bring to bear our UK expertise. It was a fascinating project because within Greece, while as I mentioned they have the PPP expertise, there perhaps wasn’t so much experience in the educational model. Clearly within the UK, through the Building Schools for the Future programme, there’s an immense wealth of knowledge in that sector. So we were able to apply that experience we had here, through these local group resources and benefit the project overall in making it not only technically, but also commercially, acceptable from a funding perspective.

“North America is an area that I think we will look to invest in, early in 2013”

World Finance: Can you explain how this expertise in the UK and Greece is being applied elsewhere in the world?

Clive Docwra: As I’ve alluded to, it’s a case of bringing the UK expertise to bear in other regions, and to that degree it’s exactly what we did in Greece, but similarly we’re doing elsewhere.

Historically, perhaps an example that predates that for McBains Cooper, is our involvement in the South America region. Starting exactly as I’ve described in the Greek example, but in that instance it’s a more mature office that we have out there now, and consequently they were able to provide the PPP services internally within the local team that’s already there, so they’ve gone through that process of learning.

Looking forward, we see the North American market being an area that we’re very keen on. I and colleagues have spent time in North America attending conferences, meeting plenty of people to establish the pipeline of work coming out of that region, and it’s an area that I think we will look to invest in, early in 2013. And again, by taking across expertise from the UK, blending that with local resources in North America and looking to develop an operation out there that reflects our offering within the UK and Greece now.

“This is ultimately key to any successful project delivery: that information flows around a team quickly and effectively”

World Finance: So what sets McBains Cooper apart when it comes to its PPP projects?

Clive Docwra: I think it’s clearly experience. That’s undoubtedly a key attribute within the PPP sector. But notably I would mention the interdisciplinary way of working that we offer within McBains.

Bear in mind the PPP industry is such a blend of so many different skills, and any service that we as a company – or people in our arena – offer, requires a blend of architects; mechanical, electrical, civil, and structural engineers; facilities managers and so on. Rather than having to use external consultants to plug in to deliver the overall PPP service, we are able to do that all under one umbrella, because we have all of those skills in-house.

I think the benefit not only is in having those skills to hand, but also through our way of working, we’re able to harness all of those skills and deliver them in a very seamless and effective manner. And again, because the services are under one roof, the level of communication is always there. This is ultimately key to any successful project delivery: that information flows around a team quickly and effectively. So because we already know each other, because we’re all under one roof, that line of communication is there. So undoubtedly I would say, McBains Cooper’s interdisciplinary way of working is key.

World Finance: Clive, thank you.

Clive Docwra: Pleasure. Thank you Nick.