2022 was a historic year for Soben. But rather than resting on our laurels, we’re setting our sights on another ambitious year writes Soben Founder and Group CEO, Scott Smyth.
It seems just yesterday that I was wrapping up the year with our last all hands call, celebrating a great year for everyone at Soben. It was humbling to think back on how much we’ve achieved.
As a global business, I am delighted that we could lay the foundations to be able to serve clients in the APAC region, alongside our existing operations in North and South America, Europe and Africa.
In January, we launched in Singapore, where Soben’s data centre specialists are now bringing their expertise to projects in the region. And we have finally started trading in Australia after a long COVID-induced wait. Wasting no time, we’re already working on major projects here, bringing our utilities experience to a AU$1B water pipeline and the flagship AU$2B Waterfront Development in Brisbane.
Technical excellence and innovation
With this geographic growth, we’ve continued to invest in the people and technology to ensure we remain the leading provider of accurate Bills of Quantities. In 2022, Soben delivered BQs for more than 300 projects, and worked on some of Europe’s most complex schemes, including multiple hyperscale and colo data centres and some of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects. Our consultancy business continues to go from strength to strength. The outstanding work of our teams on projects like Vantage Data Center’s new campus in Berlin make me incredibly proud.
In shaping the future of our business, we’ve been listening closely to our clients. The industry urgently needs better tools to improve carbon performance, so we have invested in sustainability with the launch of our new Carbon Cost Management Service. The service is designed to provide contractors and developers with transparent, strategic advice around carbon emissions.
Quality at scale
2022 was a year of significant change for Soben. We’ve grown our team from 150, to become a global organisation employing almost 250 people worldwide. To achieve my vision of becoming 1,000 by 2028 we’ve needed to put solid foundations in place – what works in a start-up isn’t what’s needed by a global enterprise. We have therefore invested in the support functions that a much bigger business needs to succeed, investing in Finance, Marketing, Sales, Recruitment and HR talent that will support our growth objectives.
Importantly, I am not prepared to let our service standards drop as we grow. Therefore, we have also invested in our management team and created a matrix management structure that ensures our clients can rely on a consistent, world-class service, wherever they are in the world.
On this journey of transformation, we’ve all learned so much already. Soben’s dynamic, agile, and no-nonsense approach has helped us become a leading player in sectors including data centres, renewable energy, and transport and infrastructure. But growth never comes in a straight line. Particularly in today’s economy, where projects are often delayed or cancelled. Soben’s diverse portfolio of expertise is designed to support the varying needs of our clients, and protect against fluctuating conditions in global markets.
Personally, a key learning has been recognising the time it takes to hire and onboard outstanding talent. Soben is dynamic. We move fast and set exceptionally high standards. This start-up mentality is what differentiates us – meaning we can deploy quickly, and still care about delivering exceptional results for every client. It is critical that we hire talent that feels comfortable in this environment, taking the time to ensure cultural and behavioural fit.
I have found that our entrepreneurial spirit is hugely appealing to ambitious professionals who want the freedom to make a significant contribution as part of a successful growing business. Once you’ve found the right people, it then takes them time to get embedded in the business, but done right, it pays dividends. We’re consistently attracting and retaining some of the top talent in the industry who want to be a part of our vision of shaping the future with integrity.
Looking to the future
I’m excited for 2023. We’re by no means taking our foot off the accelerator, but with the substantial changes we made in 2022, I am looking forward to now seeing our business leaders and managers settle into delivering their plans and watching them grow personally.
Soben truly provides something different – a combination of the best consultancy practices, with real-life, hands-on commercial experience delivering major construction projects. We’ll be focused on bringing our fresh approach to new clients and projects across the globe – helping them increase certainty on their construction investments and chart a course to net zero.
With continued growth on the horizon, I’ve recognised that I need to set personal goals that will help me develop as a leader. A great believer in lifelong learning, I want to continue developing my own leadership skills to ensure that I am fit to lead the business into the future. I’m honoured to have been selected to join the ScaleUp2.0 programme along with 11 other leaders of high growth businesses. The programme is supported by leading entrepreneurs including Tom Hunter, Chris van der Kuyl, Theo Paphitis and Jackie Stewart and aims to support Scottish based businesses growing from £20M to £100M turnover.
But of course it’s not all about work. As I turn 50 this year, I’m committed to focusing more on my own health, so I continue to be able to lead our business into the future. Work life balance is a constant challenge for me, so I’ve made it my aim to try and spend more time with my family this year and switching off from business mode occasionally!
As we head into a new year, I want to thank our clients for joining us on our journey so far. Thank you for putting your trust in Soben. As we grow, we will continue to deliver to the highest standards, to be disruptive and innovative in our approach, and to ensure return on investment on every project.
And to our people, it’s been an honour to see you grow with the business over the years and I want to thank for your hard work. Our success is ultimately because of you and your commitment to excellence. A fast moving business like ours is full of opportunity. I want you to realise your own dreams within Soben and have a long rewarding career with us.
My mantra is ‘proceed until apprehended’ and since no-one has yet stood in the way of our vision, in 2023 we’ll continue building the consultancy the industry has been waiting for.
Scott Smyth, Founder and CEO Soben, January 2023