Q&A: Unibeton Innovates Global Construction amidst Rapid Industry Change
With more than 30 years’ experience as an international construction professional, Unibeton Ready Mix’s Director of Strategic Business Development and Marketing, Robin Jones is well aware of what it takes to stay ahead of the industry curve.
Now, having been with leading Middle East ready mix concrete company, Unibeton for more than five years, Jones outlines the philosophies and tactical decisions being made behind the scenes that have led business to becoming one of the most innovative sector players, not just in the region, but on an worldwide scale.
Business Review Europe & Middle East (BREME): What typical day-to-day activities does your role consist of?
Robin Jones (RJ): As part of Unibeton Central HQ Team, we assist as an “outsource team” for the country locations with strategic BD & Marketing activities to enhance their “in-house” source based teams. Performance & corporate governance monitoring are completed to make sure we have a homogenous balance throughout the company. In addition, we assist with specific project procurement & strategic negotiations as required by the country.
BREME: How do you feel the company has progressed under your guidance and what achievements are you most proud of?
RJ: The UB objective of international growth was a bold and aggressive one since the recession in 2007 / 2008. The owners had a clear vision of where the company needed to be positioned within the GCC region and with our core teams of diverse professionals we are now very well placed within the region in Saudi Arabia and Qatar along with our home base of the UAE.
This has been a fast track expansion, but with our many local & international business partners and experienced track record we were more than able to overcome the risks & progress to a state of success as we realise now.
BREME: What is your approach to the development of skills and personnel within both the Group, and the region as a whole via various CSR initiatives?
RJ: Over the years, Unibeton has been involved in many CSR activities. We are continuously looking into new initiatives that fall within our CSR objectives for all of our operational locations and the specific market perceptions that are apparent at the time.
The group as a whole has an ongoing, diverse set of CSR activities that cover all aspects of our business units which encompasses our clients, customers, employees, community and the ever increasing environmental awareness that is now apparent.
Unibeton with its core business of producing RMC products believe we are at the forefront of the environmental awareness throughout our operational life cycle, hence the international accolades which have be bestowed on us through the years.
BREME: What roles do you have outside of Unibeton, within the industry? Eg. A member of any associations or consultancies?
RJ: Over my career I have been active within the “built environment” fields, within Project Management & Construction Associations, management of sporting, & leisure clubs and I have benefited greatly from long-term charity work, whereby a motto to keep in mind is “give something back”.
BREME: What are the specific trends and challenges that you are noticing within the industry at present?
RJ: Since the recessional influences to the entire construction industry, price of construction commodities has become prescriptive which can and has had a detrimental effect on quality of product and the allied services surrounding it.
However, Unibeton has, since its commencement in the early eighty’s, invested substantial time and cost in “innovative technologies” thus providing solutions to the field of ready mix concrete.
This has been of great advantage and an integral part of our continued success and more importantly our international growth. This has alerted our clients to not just sit back and decide on the cheapest price but even in the aftermath of the recession have continued to request a complete solution encompassing all facets of what a RMC supplier can provide.
BREME: How are you guiding Unibeton to adapt and react to these challenges and trends?
RJ: Unibeton has a very integrated ethos within its management and operational teams. This allows us to overcome the industry problems and differing market forces that challenge us.
We have seasoned professionals in all facets our business who understand the complexities of the RMC industry and more importantly adapt to the constant changes that occur.
We are a leader in “innovative technology” and this brings with it the need for a “learning curve strategy” to educate clients, consultants and contractors and public sector bodies alike of these technologies that will benefit the industry. With this initiative breeds integrity and commitment which in turn leads to long term relationships and strategic alliances for guaranteed ongoing workload.
BREME: How you think the industry needs to change or improve in the future, and how do you anticipate these issues unfolding in the years to come?
RJ: As the concrete portion of any construction project is a costly one, the industry needs to adapt and find ways to provide economic RMC solutions to their projects.
The challenges of environmental impacts are now becoming extremely important and regulations are tougher, so the industry needs to change with it
Concrete manufacture was in the past viewed a dirty and dusty industry but nowadays it’s a necessity and in some instances a complex science. This requires a high level of expertise of which Unibeton has many.
The industry requires new, innovative products and uses; projects requiring environmentally and carbon free concrete with ever increasing durability, workability and strength requirements. This will change the RMC industry into a creative mode to meet the challenges. Unibeton is already well established on this path, and will always be looking ahead.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”