The challenge of improving infrastructure delivery and maintenance across its lifecycle requires a clear understanding of the different elements at play and how they relate and impact on one another. Understanding is the first step, effective leadership to manage that change is the next.

7th July, 09:50 – 10:10 Systems Integration Panel, 10:30 – 10:50 Breakout.
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Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng FLSW FWES CEng FIMechE (Chair)


Karen is Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University. Her career began at Rolls-Royce in Bristol where she completed an undergraduate apprenticeship reading Mechanical Engineering at UWIST, followed by a PhD at the University of Wales College Cardiff. She then worked as a senior engineer at AB Electronic Products, where she was responsible for developing automotive products for companies such as BMW, Jaguar and Rover.

She joined Cardiff University as an engineering lecturer in 1990, becoming Head of the School of Engineering in 2010. In 2012 she became Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, before taking up the role of Deputy Vice-Chancellor in April 2017. Karen is married with two children aged 22 and 18.

Karen helped to build the now substantial international reputation of acoustic emission (AE) research at Cardiff University, with research resulting in technology that has greatly improved the damage assessment of bridges and other structures. Karen has been a Council member for UKRI STFC and a member of the ESPRC Strategic Advisory Network, having previously served as the external Chair of the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team. She recently took up the role of Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research committee.  In 2016 Karen co-authored the Welsh Government report “Talented Women for a Successful Wales” and in 2017 was a member of the Reid review of Government Funded Research and Innovation in Wales. In 2018 Karen received a CBE for services to engineering and advancing women in engineering.

Professor Jennifer Whyte

WhyteJennifer Whyte is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College London. Her research is on systems integration, digital engineering and production systems linked to the construction and built environment sectors. She is Director of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation and is the Laing O’Rourke/Royal Academy of Engineering Professor of Systems Integration. In the 20 years since her PhD at Loughborough University, Jennifer has held many research grants, published high-impact research papers, authored a book, and led multidisciplinary research teams. She was Shimizu Visiting Professor at Stanford in 2015.

Jennifer is a member of the Transforming Construction Advisory Group and also a co-investigator on the Transforming Construction Network Plus. She also leads research on data-driven design in the Alan Turing Institute /Lloyds Register Foundation Data Centric Engineering Programme; and co-curates the World Economic Forum Engineering and Construction Transformation Map. She is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and a member of the EPSRC Engineering Strategic Advisory Team (SAT), and the Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG). Until recently, she was a member of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Industry Safety Steering Group.

Dr Chris Millard, Laing O’Rourke

Chris has executive technical and business leadership experience across automotive, airports and construction sectors and focuses this to continue to ensure that Laing O’Rourke is a recognised leader for innovation and excellence in the construction sector.  He leads the development of Laing O’Rourke’s innovative industrialised construction and Design for Manufacture and Assembly 70:60:30 (DfMA 70:60:30) capability through the company’s four factories, integrated logistics operations and product development.  Following 20 years in the automotive industry, Chris pioneered the introduction of Systems Engineering into the construction of Heathrow Terminal, to ensure that the £4.3bn development ‘works, keeps working and stands the test of time.

The Royal Academy of Engineering and Laing O’Rourke Chair in Systems Integration

Explore the current research of the team -   

 The Chair is a collaboration between

A few related papers include

  1. Whyte, J. (2019) How digital information transforms project delivery models, Project Management Journal, 50 (2), 177-194.  [winner of 2020 best paper award]
  2. Hall, D. M., Whyte J. K. and Lessing, J. (2019). Mirror-breaking strategies to enable digital manufacturing in Silicon Valley construction firms: a comparative case study. Construction Management and Economics, 38 (4), 322-399.   
  3. Whyte, J. and Nussbaum, T. (online first). Transition and temporalities: spanning temporal boundaries as projects end and operations begin, Project Management Journal.  
  4. Whyte, J., Stasis, A. and Lindkvist, C. (2016) Managing change in the delivery of complex projects: configuration management, asset information and 'big data', International Journal of Project Management, 34 (2), 339-351. 

Please also see our Centre publication list. If you have difficulty accessing any of the above then author copies of all papers are available via:

Breakout room - Systems Integration and Systems Engineering Leadership
Moderated by Adam Locke, Partnership and Innovation Leader, Laing O’Rourke and Dr Mikela Chatzimichailidou, Honorary Research Associate, CSEI and WSP
Notes by Marcus Wallbaum