Clifton Lea – The Secrets of being a great Operational Manager

Happy 6-months anniversary

Cliff is our Operations Manager and he started working with us 6 months ago. We wanted to mark this special moment, so we asked him for an interview. Cliff has been working in the highways industry since 2009 in various roles, he is married, he has two beautiful daughters, two granddaughters and one grandson. He is a very accomplished and happy grandfather who loves spending time with his family, keeping himself fit and going to the gym. As a kid, he wanted to become a soldier, or a football player he achieved his first choice by completing 22 years in the army. His favourite song is Heroes by David Bowie.


How did you find your first 6 months at DDC? What are your favourite things about DDC?

It was quite an easy transition from what I was doing at my previous employer.

I like DDC because it is a family orientated company, and I was welcomed straight away. The environment is very friendly, and everybody likes to help.

How does an operations manager contribute to the success of a company? How does it benefit the clients?

Operations management helps companies plan every single aspect of the business including improving operational management systems, processes, and best practices. I need to make sure that the operations are carried out in a cost-effective way, that I have all the materials and resources needed available to complete the works and find ways to increase quality of customer service. I also need to ensure that all company processes remain compliant. Furthermore, I am checking KPIs, doing supervision, appraisals, recruiting, training, and supervising staff. Operations management holds immense influence in how companies can improve performance and their financial bottom line.

We give the best service that DDC can offer. The works are delivered on time, cost effective way, to programme and within the budget agreed.

How important is to have a good operations team?

It is vital important from the guys working on site to the staff in the office know their roles and are dedicated to delivering the best service to the client. If they don’t work together and have a good collaboration on site and with the management works won’t be delivered to the required standards.

What do you like about the job?

The variations. No two days are the same. One day I can be out on site meeting the clients, and the other I can be in the office doing H&S documentation, construction phase plans etc.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?

Keeping everybody working in the current climate

When you manage multiple projects, how do you evaluate the health of each project?

At DDC all projects are equally important, and they become everyone’s priority from the moment we agree with the client. As an Operations Manager, I look at the status of the project, the budget, the scope of works, and any issues that are impacting the works. I always make sure to revisit the scope of works especially if there are any changes. Another important aspect is mitigating any possible failures that I can foresee.

As for efficiency and productivity increase, how do you ensure quality is maintained?

Commit to the quality DDC provides. Stick to the project requirements, manage the quality by carrying out quality assurance checks. Follow the project process, learn from any lessons learned, carrying out full debrief after works are complete.

How do you update your skills and knowledge as an operations manager?

Firstly, I am always ensuring that my current qualifications are up to date. Secondly, I learn from others within the business, and make use of any online services/online training courses/ workshops. I read case studies from previous works that have been carried out and I network with other people from highways industry. I also continue my education in getting higher level NVQ professional qualification within the construction management.

How well is the National Technical Survey and Testing Contract in the South East Area contract going??

This is a 7-year contract for National Highways that DDC won it last year. It is a new beginning of working in the South East and the contract is going extremely well. We are on our fourth scheme, and we have works both on the TST and on the SDF. We already have scheduled works until September, and we are looking forward to more schemes soon. We are committed in delivering the best quality to National Highways and we are striving to create a great relationship based on collaboration and trust.

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