A day in the life of…Owen Thomas

As part of our Excellence in Delivery initiative, we talk to Supply Chain Manager, Owen Thomas about his new role managing suppliers and subcontractors and why a healthy supply chain equals a happy client.

How do you typically start your day?

It really depends on where I will be based for the day. If I’m in the London office, then it’s an early start for me as I travel up on the train and walk from Waterloo (only if it’s not pouring with rain!). If I’m in the Egham office then my drive into work is little more relaxed than the packed train journey in; the 30-minute drive with some music on sets me up for the day.

What does your typical day look like?

I generally start the day by working through my inbox with a coffee unless I have any pre-planned meetings first thing. This can include conversations with existing supply partners, working to set up subcontractors on our internal systems and following up on actions from our regular meetings with the team. It’s a new team; our Group Operations Director, Lee Marple has only been here for 8 months and I’ve also only been in the role for 6 months, so there is a lot to set up in terms of process and procedure.  I will have similar days across the two offices which will include regular catch ups with the contracts team, contacts directors, precontract directors and monthly reviews with suppliers and subcontractors.

I generally stick to a ‘5:2’ diet so at lunch time I get a bit of a ribbing from the team at least twice a week, however our CEO also does it so they can’t be too mean!

I’ve been working at Fourfront for the last 10 years across various departments so I also like to catch up with colleagues whenever I can – my new role involves contact with many parts of the business so it’s good to keep in touch.

What are your main duties?

I was brought in as part of the Excellence in Delivery initiative; my main focus as Supply Chain Manager is the day to day management of suppliers and subcontractors. I aim to increase collaboration between suppliers and subcontractors across the whole group. Previously suppliers would have direct relationships with specific individuals, and so by introducing them across the whole group we ensure the transfer of information and quality subcontractors.

We recently carried out a review of our supply chain to analyse where we’re strong, what we’re lacking and what we have too much of. So one of my main duties includes consolidating this and to build relationships in the areas we need to. The first project I worked on in the new role was to set up a subcontractor scoring system. This is now fully up and running and we’re beginning to see the potential the new system has in improving the quality of our delivery in partnership with our subcontractor base.

Another area of focus is supplier frameworks – we’ve set up supply chain agreements with several manufacturers and suppliers. The main aim of this is to give our internal teams and our subcontractors availability to the technical expertise of the manufacturers, this ensures we are using the right products in the right way, which should not only make our lives easier, but improve the quality of our projects and help ensure a satisfied client.

What is it like working with the Operations team?

Having moved from the HR department where we were team of 6 chatty and outgoing members, I was initially a little apprehensive about the move to such a small team – just the two of us initially. However, Lee is engaging and great fun to work with! It’s exciting to be part of such a new team as we’re laying the ground work for the future of the department, developing new ideas and projects which will hopefully benefit the whole Group.

There is a great deal of variety within the role – I now hot desk far more than before; I could be sat with the contracts team in the morning at one of our offices then working with a supplier at their premises that afternoon. Additionally, I try to make it out to visit some of our sites regularly which is an interesting change from being permanently office based. An added bonus of hot desking is that my profile has been raised in the Group, which is certainly helping in the new role.

What is it like working for Fourfront Group?

I really enjoy working for Fourfront Group; when I started 10 years ago there were only 80 people and now there are over 300 – so you can see how much we’ve grown! The thing I love most is that despite the growth we have experienced, we’ve kept our close-knit culture and family values. A lot of original people are still here and that’s a testament to the culture we have. The senior team are still just as enthusiastic now as they were 10 years ago and they lead the charge in keeping that energy alive.

Over the years I have been here I have made lasting friendships with colleagues who are now also personal friends outside of work. I love where I work and the people I work with!

Favourite part of the day?

I enjoy getting out there and meeting with people in the Group I’ve wouldn’t have had much dealing with before, getting to understand how they fit into the project cycle and what impact they have on our aims within the department.

The best bit has to be building up the relationships with new and existing suppliers. I enjoy those meetings you walk away from feeling like you’ve achieved something and you’ve built a relationship – these are really rewarding. When you think ‘That was a really positive meeting, they’re feeling good about it and so am I’ and you know it will be productive for both parties.

How do you unwind after a long day?

Gin and tonic! Relax, see my friends. I love going on holidays – but can’t do that at the end of every day!

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