As a native of Peru, supporting reconstruction works is personal for Augusto Gutiérrez, Project/Contract Manager at Gleeds.
The damage done to Peru’s infrastructure following 2017’s El Nino was catastrophic. Since joining Gleeds in early 2021, Augusto has worked to rectify this, supporting a joint venture of UK consultancies – including Gleeds, Mace, and Arup – to aid the roughly £2bn programme by Peru’s Authority for Reconstruction with Changes (ARCC). As part of this, the UK Delivery Team is delivering technical assistance, project and cost management, procurement, and delivery assurance for the provision of schools, medical facilities, flood resilience programmes.
Augusto began his career as a civil engineer in 1993, later spending 15 years in construction sectors like housing and retail before transitioning into managing public infrastructure projects in the last decade. He has devoted practically his whole life to construction, but that’s a badge he’s proud to wear given the importance of his work.
We had a chat with Augusto about how everything has gone so far.
What projects are you supporting in Peru?
I am helping deliver 74 schools and 15 health centres (half of which are big hospitals), plus treatments for rivers affected by El Nino to reduce climate and geohazard risks. It’s a combination of reconstruction, construction, and enhancement of infrastructure damaged by the flooding in 2017.
As a Peruvian, it’s a big pro to work on this programme. This is my home and the infrastructure we are delivering is badly needed. The government-to-government (G2G) agreement between the UK and Peru is bringing a lot of synergy of knowledge to assure these projects are built more efficiently so we can sooner achieve resilience and sustainability of infrastructure against climate change. It’s also very important for improving socio-economic opportunities for Peru’s communities and businesses.
How did you come to work on that project?
Before joining Gleeds, I was working on the programme for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima. That was another G2G agreement between the UK and Peru, and many of the people who worked on that are now on the ARCC programme; there were many transferrable skills for the people who had to plan, design, develop, construct, and implement over there.
My work got me noticed by Gleeds, and one of the reasons I’m able to perform the work is because that programme involved the administration and use of the NEC contract – a technical UK contract and the same one being used for the ARCC programme. You could say I know that contract pretty well now, but I’m always learning.
What are the main infrastructure challenges in Peru?
There’s just not enough infrastructure. We need more hospitals and schools – lots more. Our infrastructure delivery in Peru is important, but it’s just the beginning. Peruvians not only need better access to services, but better connectivity between cities: more airports, highways, and especially train and subway networks.
To do this, the public sector has to overcome the bureaucracy and red tape affecting how construction contracts are managed and executed. For a long time, the Peruvian construction industry has been very traditional in its approach, which has slowed delivery of critical infrastructure. But this is a big reason why the government-to-government agreement exists between Peru and the UK: to bring greater efficiencies to delivery.
What do you enjoy the most about managing projects and contracts?
Nothing ever stays the same. If you’re developing a product, you might be spending a long time in one place and potentially using the same plan or matrix for years. When you’re project and contract managing for infrastructure projects, everything is always moving – every project has its own set of challenges of varying scope and complex, and they are constantly evolving. That movement is very important for me. When I’m doing a project, I’m alive.
What’s the best part about working at Gleeds?
When I spent a decade as an independent consultant, I learned to become very self-reliant in my delivery. If you’ve been independent that long, it can be difficult to become an employee again.
I thought I would have to adjust to working with Gleeds, but I’ve been given the best of both worlds in autonomy and collaboration. That’s the most important thing in this job – you get to be self-reliant, but you also share your experience with others to develop your knowledge and become more efficient and organised. That’s always good news for clients.
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As a Peruvian, it’s a big pro to work on this programme. This is my home and the infrastructure we are delivering is badly needed.