ISG welcomes Steven Horn as Divisional Director
With over 25 years’ experience, divisional director for ISG’s UK Retail business, Steven Horn, is an industry veteran.
Steven is already proving to be an exceptional asset to the business. Bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and ideas from his experience on some of the UK’s and the Middle East’s most stand-out infrastructure and development projects.
Excited to explore untapped opportunities and bring new ideas into 2022 and beyond, Steven shares an insight on how his past experiences have led him to us and how he feels ISG is poised to not only respond to, but drive change in our industry.
So, Steven, tell us about your background and what led you to ISG?
Reflecting right back to where it all began, I left school and qualified as a mechanical engineer. My career then led me into project management progressing to operational management roles before becoming a general manager for Interserve International in their Engineering Services business. Despite having enjoyed my early career and the opportunities to work throughout the UK, I’d always had the desire to spend time working overseas.
With the announcement of Qatar’s National Vision for 2030, it quickly became clear to a global audience they had bold plans for investment in infrastructure to support their goals. The first of many large-scale opportunities that paved the way for my 15 years spent in country working for Interserve International, was the opportunity to work as a project manager on a £100m overhaul of Doha’s International Airport.
In a country quite literally building itself from the ground up to deliver on its grand ambitions, I was fortunate enough to experience working on mega-scale projects from stadia, airports, data centres and high rise 6* hotels, to military facilities. You could say I’m no stranger to fast paced development and infrastructure projects.
Certainly, one of the key considerations of investing in such growth involves ensuring its sustainable. I also spent time working on a PV research facility that were looking to develop the existing technology to benefit from the high volumes of sunlight whilst not being affected by the often-soaring temperatures in region. This is still something that’s being developed and is certainly still a key area of focus not only for myself but our industry and global community as a whole.
What made you choose ISG, and what’s been your first impressions since joining?
I was aware of ISG before joining, the insights the business shares and strength of brand set it apart in many ways, and I got the sense this was a progressive organisation with a lot of opportunities for someone like myself.
Initially it was ISG’s appointment to work on the gigaplant factory for Britishvolt that led me to reach out, a ground-breaking facility in the North East that will be a driving force in the UK’s automotive and renewable energy industries. However, one phone call from Kevin Dengate, Managing Director of the UK Retail business, was to redirect my course - presenting an opportunity so exciting to me that I grabbed it with both hands, and haven’t looked back since.
I was aware that ISG was one of the biggest retail contractors in the UK, but coming to learn the continued rate of expansion of its business, especially against the backdrop of the high-street’s decline, I realised just how plumbed in and ahead of the curve ISG’s UK Retail business is.
Certainly not prepared to rest on its laurels, nor shirk ISG’s dedication to its vision, Kevin informed me of his plans to invest into future mobility across the UK and how we help ensure the UK is set up for more energy efficient transport by upgrading and renewing existing outlets and facilities with electric charging points. His sights don’t stop here, new facilities may also need to be invested in and developed to achieve this. It was a bold aspiration to help accelerate much-needed change, one that I couldn’t wait to be part of.
Since joining ISG, the one other thing that’s really struck a chord, and given me such confidence, is seeing the wealth of talent that is being developed and brought into this burgeoning business. From the existing talent based out of ISG’s Chorley office being primed to be upskilled to deliver new services, to new talent in every region growing at pace, my outlook on what this business can and will deliver has surpassed my expectations.
With this investment from the business, what sort of opportunities are you hoping to explore?
Given the importance and resulting platform the subject has been given in the mainstream agenda, we all fully understand the importance of reducing carbon emissions and energy usage to create a more sustainable future. ISG’s contribution to the discussion with its Sustainable Buildings Monitor research report has been really insightful, as well as perspectives from talent right across the business addressing the challenges and opportunities; sharing innovations across the sectors in which they work.
Given the setup of our UK Retail business, that works on fit out projects as agile as installing ATM’s nationally, to large scale construction of logistics and distribution facilities, we’re well poised to assist with the installation of facilities to support the clean energy lifecycle and the changing face of future mobility. We have a wealth of experience installing clean energy systems to boost energy production, whilst building and upgrading facilities of all scale to uncompromising quality and performance standards.
Most of us, probably, would have no idea what goes into turning a train into a library and wellbeing hub. What needs to be stripped out, what needs to be added in, health and safety considerations to be met, how to weather-proof, heat, decorate, ensure that the space is both resilient to and safe for boisterous children – the list is endless, and most people likely wouldn’t know where to start. The thing is, neither did Lesley. She just got on with it all the same, figuring that her first objective was to clear the ground on the school field for the impending trains.
“I just knocked on the door and asked for a digger!” Lesley, nowadays a firm believer in “don’t ask, don’t get”, refused to be daunted by the scale or improbability of her vision. When she knew she needed building equipment, she chanced her arm and “rocked up” to a nearby ISG building site. Lesley says: “The Health and Safety manager asked me ‘who do you need to speak to?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know’. He said, ‘You might want the senior project manager’ and I thought, ‘yep, that sounds like exactly who I need”. That senior project manager was Adam Ryan, and the rest is history. In the following three years, Adam and Lesley formed a tight bond and worked together closely. Adam walked Lesley through creating a ‘shopping list’ and a plan of action. To get the train carriages into the school grounds (baffled locals who came out to watch the train carriages be secured on the back of a low loader, driven down the country lane and reversed through the school gates. They were then rolled onto the train tracks with precision and ease, whilst the children looked on with excitement). Once in situ Adam and Lesley worked tirelessly to bring other project partners on board, and to refurbish the carriages completely. Adam contacted architect Peter Swift through social media and tasked him with designing the inside of the train.
And lastly, how do you feel ISG is poised to respond to these opportunities?
We understand that no individual stakeholder can facilitate the change required, but it’s a collaborative effort by all of us with a stake in the built environment. As a contractor we’re committed to having those discussions earlier and implementing modern methods of construction to enable more sustainable ways of working. We are also working to ensure we are partnering with local supply chains that can deliver on our shared ambitions.
Our deep roots in retail mean we understand that speed to market and quality must go hand in hand – as well as delivering in live environments to ensure vital operations can continue undisrupted.
As we look to the transformation of future mobility we have ambitions to be the partner of choice, from the start of the process, with battery manufacture, through to the end user – waiting for a coffee or shopping while your electric vehicle charges.
We need to be poised for change and we are. I, for one, could not be more excited by the opportunities ahead.