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GE Awards shortlist: Consulting firm of the year

The Consulting Firm of the Year category recognises the geotechnical consultancy, or division within a within a major consultant, that has continually delivered innovation, quality and value over the last 12 months. The finalists were asked to show successful project delivery; partnering capabilities; engagement with clients, contractors and stakeholders; and clear delivery of growth.


In the last year, Arup’s geotechnical staff numbers in the UK grew by 14%. The company won framework agreements with Network Rail, Highways Agency, BP and Shell, all of which are managed by the geotechnical team and which provide diverse work streams. The company works on projects with technical areas, including induced seismicity, geothermal heating schemes, offshore foundation and onshore wind farms, basement and foundations for larger span bridges to residential development. Graduate recruitment is the backbone of the Arup team, and last year it continued this approach by widening its recruitment to apprentices. In London the company has taken on an apprentice to train in BIM and GIS alongside developing skills in civil/geotechnical engineering.


Atkins primarily operates in the UK with smaller, yet expanding, offices in the Middle East, Bangalore and Hong Kong. The company has worked on a number of high-profile projects, including Crossrail and Wylfa Newydd, as well as offshore projects such as the Humber Gateway Offshore Wind Farm. Atkins’ capabilities in the offshore wind energy industry have seen the company undertake project management for a major research initiative between industry and academia, the Pile Soil Analysis (PISA) project. Atkins’ staff have also contributed to raising the profile of ground engineering by producing technical papers and giving presentations at local schools, society events and international conferences, as well as giving continued service to professional and industry committees.

Byrne Looby Partners

Byrne Looby Partners’ (BLP’s) estimated 2014 revenues have increased by more than 20% in comparison to 2013 results. Monthly average sales continue to grow steadily. The company has offices in nine locations, and in 2014 both the Guildford and Dubai offices were relocated to larger premises. In addition, the support services team moved to a new office in Dublin to facilitate the growth in staffing numbers. The size of projects worked on has also seen a dramatic increase with commissions up in some cases by 200 fold. BLP says the client is at the heart of everything it does, a sentiment reflected by Network Rail project engineer Tom Butler who praised the company for submissions of “exceptional quality”.


CGL maintained a net profit margin of 13%, while increasing both turnover and the number of technical staff at the company during 2014. CGL has three offices in the UK at Godalming, where head office activities are organised, Exeter and Harrogate. Over the last 12 months, the company has worked on a variety of challenging projects including the Brewery Square development in Dorchester and the Crossaig to Carradale investigation for 132kV pylon line replacement. CGL has also implemented two internal initiatives to benefit staff morale and development. The first was an HR dashboard to monitor the company “heartbeat” during monthly operations and board meetings. The second involved CGL investing in talent development and the Strengthscope tool, giving staff access to an external facilitator to help focus on identifying and working on three personal strengths.


During 2014, CH2M Hill’s geotechnical staff in Europe increased by 14%. The company’s revenue in Europe also increased over the last 12 months. CH2M Hill has provided 18 full-time staff to HS2 for the GI Delivery Team and 16 full-time office and site staff to Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. Although these are six to 30-month assignments, the company says the breadth of its resource pool and agile recruiting means existing commitments have not been compromised. In the UK, the company worked on major projects including Crossrail, HS2, Thames Tideway and Hinkley Nuclear. International projects completed in 2014 included Roy Hill Ore Project and design of the North West Rail Link, Australia; Kishanganga Hydroelectric, India; IDRISS tunnels and shafts, Doha; and major link roads in Al Ain, UAE.

Donaldson Associates

Donaldson Associates has achieved 13.5% increase in revenue over the past 12 months and staff numbers have grown by 5% over the same period. Major projects undertaken in the last 12 months include tunnelling, rail-related geotechnics, renewable energy geotechnics, mining geotechnics, and basement and retaining structure design. While Donaldson Associates’ UK offices continue to grow the regional market share, the Hong Kong office is expanding and overseeing projects across Asia. The company has also decided to move its rick engineering skillsets from the UK offices to Hong Kong, resulting in high-profile project awards in the design of shafts, caverns and tunnels for rail infrastructure. 

Hyder Consulting (UK)

Hyder Consulting’s UK Geosciences Group shown strong growth over the last year, with a focus on the rail, highways, environment and energy sectors. Key projects Crossrail Station Upgrades, Bank SCU Utilities Damage Assessment and Network Rail earthworks programmes on CP5 in the LNE, LNW and Wessex regions. Collaboration across the Hyder regions, including Hong Kong, Australia, the Middle East and Australia, has enabled resource extension and sharing of skills, particularly in tunnelling and GIS. Hyder provides combined geotechnical and geo-environmental consulting and site investigation services to offer clients added value in cost, programme and quality. This is fed into 3D ground modelling using GIS and BIM to integrate geotechnics into designs from the start.


Over 2014 the geotechnical team has developed into its own standalone design business, providing key technical and design support services for a wide range of projects such as The Shard, London and the A19 Coast Road upgrade in north east England. In the last 12 months the company grew from 33 to more than 40 practicing geotechnical engineers. The geotechnical team also has an established client base of its own and works closely with contaminated land colleagues on complex regeneration projects. WSP now has established dedicated geotechnical teams in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Hertford, Basingstoke and Bristol. The company also merged with Parsons Brinkerhoff in December 2014, ensuring WSP can call on the services of more than 90 geotechnical specialists across the UK.

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