Q&A Sep 26, 2023

Safeguarding London's Future Through Talent & Teamwork on TEAM2100: A Q&A With Claire Bishop

Our Stakeholder Manager on TEAM2100, Claire Bishop , describes how engagement and collaboration with the right people at the right time deliver the greatest economic and social value in the U.K.’s biggest flood-defense program.

Q&A with Claire Bishop Jacobs TEAM2100 Stakeholder Manager

According to the London School of Economics and Political Science, flood risk has risen drastically in the past few years with heavy rainfall events now 40% more likely in certain areas due to climate change. Several major cities globally are under threat, and London is one of them. To help safeguard the future of its citizens, England’s Environment Agency (EA) created the Thames Estuary Asset Management (TEAM2100) program as part of a long-term approach, Thames Estuary 2100 (TE2100),  to managing tidal flood defenses in London and the Thames Estuary. TEAM2100 relies on a pioneering one-team approach between Balfour Beatty as construction partner and our client, both internally and externally. 
In this article, Claire Bishop explains how she drives strategic stakeholder engagement to facilitate delivery and unlock economic and social value on TEAM2100.

Hi, Claire. Please tell us about your career to date.

I started off as a journalist in the regional press and then headed off to the BBC. After that, I moved into the communications field and went on to work for a range of high-profile public and private sector organizations, including the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games in 2012, the Home Office, Northumbrian Water and Southeastern Railway. My previous role at Jacobs was on the Lower Thames Crossing scheme for National Highways.

What does your current role involve?

I’m a stakeholder manager for TEAM2100, the EA’s ten-year program to refurbish and replace tidal flood defenses in London and the Thames Estuary. I oversee the stakeholder activities for several projects that are part of the program (last year we delivered over 60 projects). This involves identifying the stakeholders for each project and then working with them to understand their needs for the duration of each project. This relies on creating and harnessing a bespoke engagement plan for every project. This is all part of a pioneering asset management approach for us and our client, the EA.

How are you helping to solve our client’s biggest challenges?

Stakeholder engagement helps to protect and enhance the reputation of the projects on the TEAM2100 program, the U.K.’s largest single flood risk management program. Many of the projects at TEAM2100 are based at the center of busy communities. Therefore, a critical challenge is ensuring that those who will be impacted by the works are kept up-to-date and know where they can find out information and raise any issues. The stakeholder team works to manage stakeholders effectively by gaining their support and buy-in from those who can facilitate or hinder a project. We also help to align expectations and objectives among different stakeholder groups to build trust and develop a two-way dialogue. In addition, our team has a key role in supporting the EA in its communications with the government, politicians and the media.

Our work on TEAM2100 covers all three accelerators within Jacobs’ strategy. Firstly, we are directly working on climate response by helping to safeguard London with flood defenses. This is even more critical now with more frequent and intense flooding issues arising due to climate change.

Our team relies heavily on data solutions as part of our communications and this reliance on digital tools extends to the rest of the TEAM2100 operations. We encourage connected delivery through the updates, milestones and best practices we share across different teams and disciplines involved in the program. This ensures seamless communication and knowledge sharing, helping create a connected delivery approach where all stakeholders work together efficiently to achieve common goals and advocate for sustainable solutions.

Lastly, as part of a team with several different stakeholders, our combined consulting and advisory abilities are what help us achieve such high standards and program outputs.

Who are the different stakeholders in TEAM2100, and how do you drive collaboration between them?

The stakeholder team liaises and supports the Environment Agency and TE2100 with three main stakeholder groups externally. Firstly, there are the strategic stakeholders who support the EA in its work with the sponsor organizations, such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which approved the key strategic documents to enable the formation of TEAM2100 and is instrumental in producing the TE2100 plan.

We also have operational stakeholders who work collaboratively with the agency to engage with politicians and public interest organizations. Some, such as the Port of London Authority, work with TEAM2100 at an estuary-wide level, while others, such as the Canals and River Trust, are interested in specific assets or locations.

Finally, there are ‘on-the-ground stakeholders’ with whom we work directly. These are community groups and individuals, including homeowners and businesses, impacted by our works or set to benefit from them. We use a range of stakeholder tools to ensure that we collaborate effectively. These include a stakeholder engagement plan for each project to identify opportunities and mitigate risks, newsletters, factsheets, web pages and drop-in sessions.

How does stakeholder engagement unlock social value?

Social value is a golden thread that runs throughout the TEAM2100 engagement approach. We identify the benefits that the projects can offer both to the local and wider community by liaising with stakeholders. These benefits can be long and short-term and can range from employment to skills and sustainability. One great example of this is the Canvey Southern Shoreline Revetment project. We’re working with local schools to educate and promote career choices and using a range of sustainable solutions on-site, including the use of rainwater harvesting and solar-powered cabins provided by Balfour Beatty.

“Social value is a golden thread that runs throughout the TEAM2100 engagement approach. We identify the benefits that the projects can offer both to the local and wider community by liaising with stakeholders. These benefits can be long and short-term and can range from employment to skills and sustainability”

Claire Bishop

Claire Bishop

Jacobs Stakeholder Manager on TEAM2100

What are the lessons you’ve learned from TEAM2100?

Working on the many projects at TEAM2100 has reinforced the importance of early engagement with stakeholders. Starting early is critical in helping to align the whole project team to stakeholder and engagement needs. It also helps to establish accurate timescales and identify any risks that may impact the overall project timings.

We also make sure we’re continually measuring and evaluating everything we do. We have a quarterly Key Performance Indicator survey that tracks the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement on TEAM 2100 and we’re constantly measuring the effectiveness of our messaging on our digital channels. 
What are the biggest global trends in stakeholder engagement?

Stakeholder engagement is not a static or one-size-fits-all process. It requires constant adaptation and innovation to respond to the changing needs and expectations of stakeholders. Digital transformation has shifted how stakeholders interact with each other and organizations. It has increased the availability of data, information and feedback. Now you need to leverage digital tools and channels to engage your stakeholders in relevant, meaningful and timely ways.

Stakeholders are also increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impacts of organizations. They expect organizations to show how committed they are to sustainability, diversity and inclusion with authentic action and measurable, transparent results.

What role does technology play in stakeholder engagement?

Technology empowers us to reach the stakeholders we need to engage effectively and efficiently. A dedicated webpage and social media are powerful, versatile tools that help us reach our target audiences quickly.

Technology allows us to track engagement on these digital channels and to keep an accessible, transparent record of all communication. Lastly, these digital tools also help us respond in good time to show that we’re listening and acting upon comments and feedback.

What are the benefits of better communication and engagement on the project?

Every project at TEAM2100 is unique. Better communication and engagement enable us to really get a good understanding of the bespoke needs of each project. This can help to save time and money overall as we can proactively identify and prevent issues from impacting the overall timeline. We do this by building up an effective dialogue with stakeholders through hosting drop-in sessions and information events and offering dedicated communications channels. This supports our team in mitigating risks and tackling tricky issues earlier, and it keeps the projects on the correct timescales. It also promotes the benefits of the work we’re doing and helps us understand how we can make a long-lasting impact through social value initiatives.

The proof of these benefits can be seen in satisfaction ratings from stakeholders. Our approach has consistently delivered a five-out-of-five overall stakeholder satisfaction rating in our quarterly survey. We have also received considerable positive feedback, including: “Very helpful in explaining the work being carried out and how it is to be done”, “Explained a lot of unknown facts”, “Everyone was extremely helpful”, “Very professional”, “I think you are doing an excellent job” and “Answered all our questions and more.”

Our communications and engagement have enabled projects to score 100% in Considerate Constructors’ Scheme surveys, all of which considerably boost the reputation of TEAM2100.

While it’s always difficult to meaningfully quantify savings or efficiencies from stakeholder engagement and communications, our most complicated and challenging customer situations have always been made considerably easier through our upfront, early engagement approach. Case in point, our work on Canvey Island Flood Defense scheme in Essex, which is close to homes and very disruptive, has been considerably eased by our strategic approach to engaging with residents so they know what is happening, when it’s occurring and, crucially, why it is necessary.
What is your most proud career achievement?

Being given the opportunity to work for a wide range of industries in the private and public sectors. I feel very lucky to have experienced such a wide range of organizations.
What would people be most surprised to find out about you?

I was part of a live episode of the British soap opera EastEnders when the Olympic Torch was taken to the show during my time working on the Olympic Torch Relay!

When you aren’t working, what do you do in your downtime?

Trying different ways to keep fit (I’m yet to find something that sticks!), traveling when I can and learning DIY skills.
What do you most enjoy about being part of Jacobs?

Jacobs offers a wide variety of potential projects to work on which keeps things fresh and exciting. The teams I have worked in have all been supportive and I have learned something from every person I have worked with.

About the interviewee

Claire Bishop

Claire Bishop is a stakeholder and communications professional with experience of relationship management and the creation of communications content within the private and public sectors. Claire creates collaborative relationships through strategic plans, and this has helped to enhance and protect the reputation of the projects on the TEAM2100 program.

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