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Michael Tonkin

HKA is one of the world’s largest providers of advisory, consulting and expert services serving a wide range of markets. It is the new global brand that unites the former Construction Claims & Consulting Group of Hill International and associated subsidiaries Binnington Copeland & Associates, Cadogans, Knowles, McLachlan Lister and PCI Group.

 

Michael Tonkin C.Arb, Partner and Head of Expert Services for the Middle East and Africa region, provides an overview of the firm and its work.

HKA was created following a demerger from Hill International earlier this year. Could you tell us more about what you do and what makes the newly formed HKA distinct?
 
Our demerger from Hill International, Inc. means that we are now a privately owned, independent company. We have restructured our business, amalgamated six brands and united as a worldwide group of specialist advisors, consultants and experts to create a globally connected, integrated service offering for our clients in the construction, manufacturing, process and technology industries.
 
We have over 900 professionals in more than 40 offices worldwide in 21 countries. That means HKA can provide clients with access to a global suite of services that embraces a wide range of specialist advisory, consulting and expert services. As the world’s largest consulting firm of its kind, HKA is uniquely placed to provide clients with the benefits of seamless access to support for the entire life cycle of projects.
 
What makes us distinct? Well, at HKA we anticipate, investigate and resolve project challenges. We understand the pressures that come with delivering successful projects, whatever their size and complexity, wherever in the world. For over four decades, we’ve stood alongside our clients as trusted, independent advisers, finding solutions amid uncertainty, dispute and overrun.
 
How would you describe the HKA corporate culture? 
 
HKA’s origins were established more than 40 years ago by true entrepreneurs and pioneers in the construction industry, notably Roger Knowles, (who founded JR Knowles in 1973), Irv Richter (who launched Hill International from his home in New Jersey, USA in 1976, as a claims consultancy) and the late Alfred “Hank” Hancox, who founded a specialist engineering company in Dundee, Scotland, in 1970 called Hancox & Partners, which was later to become Cadogans.
 
These solid foundations remain today and afford our clients real assurance and confidence in our ability to deliver. Our culture is about adding value, bringing clarity, creating solutions, delivering excellence and exceeding expectations. The way we work is founded on certain key qualities that define the way we behave. We are agile, collaborative, confident, innovative and passionate.
 
That all adds up to HKA being a great place to work. We operate in a fun, open and trusting work environment that promotes communication, respect and teamwork. Our culture is one of being responsive to a changing world with entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions. We are open to our clients’ needs and expectations, helping them to maximise their success.

Tell us more about your training services.  Which topic matter is the most popular?
 
We have a wealth of knowledge to share with organisations managing construction and engineering assets.  We develop clients’ capabilities through training as well as expert advice and knowledge transfer while working with clients on their projects.
 
Around the world, our expert trainers have delivered more than 1,500 public seminars and 2,000 in-house training courses and tailored programmes. We provide training for government ministries and agencies, contractors and subcontractors, professional bodies, technical consultancies and lawyers.
 
Our training programmes encompass the full range of our professional services and are delivered through public seminars and open courses, as well as in-house and bespoke training.
 
HKA training covers a wide range of topics. Examples include contract administration and management, effective cost and programme controls, risk management, claims avoidance and defence, standard forms of contract, partnering contracts, contractual awareness, and working practices for commercial competitiveness.
 
In terms of popularity, it really depends on the audience. In general terms, probably our contractual awareness and standard forms of contract courses. The industry is always keen to learn from our experts about the various forms of contracts that exist within the industry, and those that are most applicable to their particular project. Also, updates to established forms of contract such as NEC and the FIDIC ‘rainbow’ suite are always well received.
 
What led you to join CIArb as a corporate member?
 
Many of our individual staff are members of the Institute and we actively support your activities. However, in terms of corporate membership, perhaps the single biggest benefit to our organisation is the access that membership gives us to unrivalled networks within the Institute’s global membership community. We pride ourselves on thought leadership, so membership also provides us with opportunities to engage in and shape current debate on ADR.
 
Corporate membership also acts as an endorsement of our commitment to the Institute. For example, in July this year, we helped to launch – and sponsored - the South African Young Members Group (YMG) in Johannesburg, an event that attracted participants from all over Africa.
 
Membership is important to us a global organisation and a leader in our field. We are keen to promote our association with CIArb and look forward to sharing mutual benefits.
 
What does the future hold for you?
 
Construction has always been a powerful engine for growth. Our industry’s relative global GDP contribution continues to grow and by 2030 it will account for almost 15% of world output. This equates to a global construction and engineering cumulative spend of US $212 trillion. The scale of the opportunity is incredible.
 
Demand for infrastructure in emerging markets, the need to upgrade ageing assets in the developed world, and the rollout of ambitious stimulus packages all translate into unprecedented growth in our industry. Combined with globalisation and increasing project complexity, today’s climate presents an exciting but unnerving combination of unparalleled opportunities and greater potential for risk.
 
If we are to meet forecast growth around the world, our industry must adapt more quickly. Global construction needs to embrace continued digitisation of its economy to improve productivity, client outcomes and stakeholder value. Our industry should embrace new initiatives, technology and digitisation.
 
In every market sector, projects are becoming ever more complex and international and HKA is a firm uniquely positioned to address this with a fully integrated, full life cycle offering. This exciting development builds on our culture of client commitment and is a milestone in 40 years of standing alongside our clients.  Bringing together our business gives us the opportunity to unlock our full potential – we are excited about what the future holds.


If your organisation is interested in Corporate Membership, please email corporate@ciarb.org or call Owen Brigden on +44 (0)20 7421 7469.