Construction Titan: Kez Taylor, CEO of ALEC
ALEC has consistently evolved and grown over the last 20 years to become a trusted partner to execute complex and iconic construction projects. The company builds and provides construction solutions to exceed our clients’ expectations for quality, safety, functionality, and aesthetics.
For the past two decades, Kez Taylor, CEO at ALEC, has led the charge in taking the organisation to new heights with his forward-thinking approach.
The exponential growth is due to Kez’s forward-thinking approach in how the organisation should be run, from employee management, adapting to new technology, and encouraging the use of innovative strategies in projects.
Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their workforce without micromanaging — they trust there trained employees to take authority over decisions in their assigned jobs. It’s a management style that’s designed to give employees more room to be creative, look to the future, and find new solutions to old problems. Employees on the leadership track will also be prepared to become transformational leaders themselves through mentorship and training.
Let’s take a closer look at two key initiatives that were introduced to help grow leadership qualities within ALEC:
- Performance Leadership Academy
ALEC’s manager and supervisors will be attending a four-course program at their Performance Leadership Academy to enhance their leadership level amongst their team. The academy will focus on providing all managers and supervisors the tools and techniques to become a more well-rounded leader. The objective is for the participants to communicate more effectively with their team, provide feedback to develop their skillset, and conduct a proper performance review.
- Learning Management System
ALEC introduced the Axonify platform into its learning management system. This was to help ensure that employees are given the opportunity to continue their growth, development, and skill set. After the employees have finished their training, they will be asked daily, simple questions regarding the training content. This will help reinforce the learnings, but also help participants to embrace a constant desire to improve. Furthermore, employees will have the opportunity to earn points for participating in these daily quizzes for prizes such as coffee certificates, additional time off, additional training and much more.
To succeed in the digital age, businesses must embrace technology and develop “digital leaders” to increase organizational agility, collaboration, and transparency.
The construction industry is one of the oldest and largest in the world and is now standing on the brink of a technological sea change. Kez was quick to recognise this and push ALEC towards a new era of digital transformation.
ALEC has driven a number of initiatives to fulfill Kez’s vision for ALEC to be the leading innovative construction group in the region.
Kez explains: “In addition to having an innovation department, which capably drives and assists with over 100 innovative initiatives per year, we have numerous developments occurring in our digital transformation space. We are digitising our core at ALEC through our HIVE initiative which aims to connect over 53 applications, 219 core processes, scores of departments/business units/sites and our staff.”
This will enable ALEC to drive real-time business operations, providing maximum value to its customers.
The company has also fully migrated all their services to the Cloud in 2019, and have established a second cloud tenancy for redundancy, business continuity and maximisation of services from ALEC’s technology partners.
“The cloud migration, business continuity plan, and the high levels of digital workplace tools adoption like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive pre-COVID-19, provided us with a strong foundation to seamlessly transition to remote working. Our teams are utilising our growing BIM environments to collaborate and speed up the quality and delivery outputs – these run through our estimation and commercial teams before moving to procurement, engineering and finally our operations teams on site,” said Kez.
Innovation and Technology
From a technological standpoint, many construction technologies are in their infancy and have rapid development cycles that make adoption on live projects challenging. Mature technologies from other industries are inflexible enough for construction projects, and adapting them to our changing environment is equally challenging.
ALEC’s proactive steps, though, have made technology and innovation a priority. Recently, ALEC signed a deal with CMiC, the innovation leader in ERP and field operations software for the construction industry in North America, to use its platform and software to run financials and field operations. CMiC’s Single Database Platform™ architecture, which delivers a single version of the truth to users across all functional areas, was the key advantage over alternative ERP software vendors. As the only ERP solution built specifically for construction, CMiC includes functionality designed to support international best practices and collaboration.
Furthermore, ALEC has been utilizing data, analysis, and calculations as a basis for making decisions. By analyzing their operations and concentrating on low productive areas, they have seen improvement ranging from 10 % to 400 % due to some of the initiatives. Data collection & utilization is vital in modern construction.
Kez points out, “ALEC has been a leader in the UAE construction industry mainly due to the different mindset and willingness to always revamp and improve processes and procedures. Our people thrive for continuous improvement, learning & development, thus every new project applies learnings from the previous ones which increased our market competitiveness. ALEC is the middle of executing its digital transformation across many elements including implementation of a new ERP, increase of BIM utilization in addition to using software and digital solutions across different processes to become information enabled leading to a data driven decision making.”
ALEC’s innovative use of BIM on a large scale has introduced new processes and ways to design a project. BIM has been revolutionary in the construction industry. Through the production and development of digital models representing the various elements of a project, designers, contractors, and owners are afforded greater flexibility and control over all phases of a project from design and construction through to operation. If implemented correctly, BIM will bring with it the benefits of improved efficiencies and reduced costs.
BIM also plays its part in a more comprehensive “internet of things” in construction projects, which will see the generation and exchange of data amongst users and electronic devices. In turn, this will lead to the use of “big data” and analytics to improve efficiencies, flexibility, and cost control. Again, this will not be limited to the design and construction phases but beyond the projects’ operational phase.
Kez said: “Architecture and design are iterative processes that have traditionally been manually intensive. Now, architects, structural engineers, and builders all need to view different pieces of information and use unusual design templates. Different models must then be made to show clients. When any changes are made, care needs to be taken that all documentation is updated. A BIM database improves collaboration, it also provides a store of architectural and design data that can be used for 3D modeling and software simulations.”
ALEC’s vision towards the future has seen them introduce smart and green power solutions to address new market trends by utilizing their subsidiary divisions such as ALEC Energy, which is a provider of financially sound green energy solutions, in addition to ALEC Modular which is intended to supply fully integrated modular units to ensure that they are ready for the future of construction.
Due to that, the number of innovation initiatives being implemented is on the rise year-on-year. ALEC continues to collaborate with external stakeholders, including the micro-environment suppliers and business partners, and they have contributed positively to their innovation initiatives.
Furthermore, ALEC is now considering 3D Printing for specific business elements and introducing automation and robotics for certain projects.
One Step Ahead
2020 will forever go down as the year of COVID-19. The pandemic has made a systematic shift in how the world operates. The pandemic has been impacting construction and engineering projects worldwide in numerous ways, and many projects have been stopped or delayed as a result.
However, ALEC has seen a different result thanks to their digital transformation, which began well before the COVID-19 crisis. There seems to be a clear correlation with companies that have a robust digital infrastructure being able to navigate through this. During 2019, ALEC implemented numerous/several digital initiatives to become more efficient, sustainable, and transform the construction industry. These implementations provide maximum safety for employees and ensure productivity and enhanced collaboration during the pandemic.
Of course, the key component in ensuring that ALEC was prepared was Kez and other senior management leaders’ involvement.
“ALEC reacted to the crisis very early and put great effort into drawing up ‘what-if’ scenarios with detailed strategies behind each. We moved directly to an online digitized tracking and management platform that allowed us to keep control of all cases and their contacts ensuring we were able to look after our people as well as communicate in real time. A dedicated, senior level crisis team met daily discussing the changes in the situation and adapted our strategies on the spot,” said Kez.
The leadership team was involved in the daily crisis team meetings. Their guidance and support were instrumental in enabling the crisis management team to remain effective and assist people working on construction sites.
This allowed for construction sites to remain open and continued to deliver despite the difficulties they faced. ALEC appointed a dedicated team to deal with this crisis in charge of every aspect of the business and try to navigate all the processes and protocols to align with the local authorities and worldwide recommendations.
Putting aside the pandemic, there is no doubt that ALEC has so much more to showcase, and with Kez at the helm, the company continues to earn well-deserved accolades in the construction industry.