Megascale: Mega value
Studying Politics at Northumbria University, Sinéad Moloney first developed a passion for helping others after her studies into the British political system opened her eyes to the worrying impacts of unequal economic development in the UK.
Fast forward to today, and Sinéad’s drive to create a better world for the people around her continues to shine in her role as social value manager at ISG.
Joining the business in the Spring of 2021, Sinéad has played an integral role in the delivery of our Britishvolt project in Northumberland, developing an ESG strategy and ensuring economic and community benefit to the surrounding communities.
Delving deeper into her background and experience of creating a social impact on megascale projects, ISG sat down with Sinéad to learn more about her plans for driving economic and social change on ISG projects going forward.
Sinéad, tell us a bit about your experience in social value
I have over 30 years’ experience in economic regeneration and social value with local authorities and I’ve always loved thinking about the opportunities different projects present, both in the built environment but across a range of other sectors too.
Social value as a concept is constantly changing and will change again once ESG cements itself even further in the market. As the agenda evolves, so do the initiatives we’re able to be involved with and the complexities of what we’re trying to achieve are both challenging and exciting.
You could say I’m a bit of a gamekeeper – turned poacher. I knew the social value insights I wanted to see in bids from the private sector and always felt somewhat disappointed. I wanted to take social value to new levels of impact, so I ran a regional local authority business club that offered social value training for SME businesses to demonstrate how to move away from ticking a box in a tender process.
I’m now, as of August 2021, working as a senior social value manager at ISG. As soon as I saw the position published I couldn’t bear the thought of someone else doing the role!
What is it you love about the social value sector? And more specifically, social value on megascale projects?
Social value has the potential to change lives and often this doesn’t just apply to sole individuals. Megascale developments like Britishvolt can act as a catalyst for change and uplift whole communities. It’s such a rewarding industry!
For me, making the most of community investments and squeezing as much value as we can out of our projects is key. I like imagining the initiatives we could offer and the impact that we could have and then working with different stakeholders and individuals to see where we can collaborate to make it work. I love the sense of pride and excitement this brings to the people working in and living around the project.
Tell us about some of the social value initiatives you’re currently working on at Britishvolt
We are aiming all of our social value to be delivered in the most deprived 30% of wards (Index of Multiple Deprivation). To do this, we are working with partners such as DWP and Bridge Northumberland, to open up vacancies to local residents. We’re also planning to have an onsite training hub – supported by government funding – to deliver training for entry level positions.
Our whole supply chain is involved in delivering social value, so we have many different pathways and routes to engaging with people. Which not only really helps, but also makes the project really exciting.
We also see massive opportunities in renewable energy. It’s so important for us to support an area which has suffered from a significant lack of investment since coalmining ceased in Northumberland in the early 1990’s. Preparing for change and supporting the community while that change takes place will be a key activity over the next few years.
What have you learnt from the challenges you’ve faced on megascale projects?
Many years of experience has taught me that to deliver effectively you need to have a structured mix of projects that will meet the expectations of the client, local authorities and the community. It's also essential that you build in some future-proofing, by including added value and innovation around issues that you can see emerging in the medium to long term.
The main lesson I’ve learnt is that if you share a passion to ‘do good’ with people, they always respond to you in a positive way. It might not be in ways that you had in mind, but that’s the beauty of collaboration – building something special that we all can share.
"Megascale developments like Britishvolt can act as a catalyst for change and uplift whole communities. It’s such a rewarding industry!"
Sinéad Moloney, Senior Social Value Manager, ISG
In what ways do you think ISG is leading the industry in the social value space?
ISG is incredibly progressive with regards to diversity and inclusion, and a trailblazer across business units in our work with underrepresented communities.
ISG’s dynamic approach means that we can flex and change social value delivery to meet immediate needs of communities – rather than everyone, everywhere receiving the same programme. It’s all about channelling the most efficient and relevant ideas, not just taking the easiest route.
Personally, I really appreciate that we’re supported from the top-down at ISG. When our CEO, Matt Blowers, was asked to join a ‘sleepout’ challenge with our managing director of our high tech manufacturing, Peter Millett, to raise awareness of homelessness and funds for Walking with the Wounded, his response was immediately YES.