The Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Awards is an annual opportunity to spotlight the very best of the consulting industry and features prizes for firms, projects and individuals. Charles Newhouse, Global Consulting Director, was thrilled with our success this year.
“This year is the 25th anniversary of the MCA Awards and as such it was not surprising that there was a huge rise in submissions – breaking even last year’s records. Against this challenging and intensely competitive backdrop, to get through to be a finalist is a huge achievement for all our nominees,” he said.
“As a company we continually strive for excellence by constantly innovating to provide our clients with a competitive edge. Over the course of a year that was shaped by the cascading consequences of the pandemic, not to mention the tumult of geopolitical shifts and the escalating climate crisis, all of our nominees showcase our commitment to putting our clients at the heart of what we do. We’re all looking forward to the awards ceremony later this year!”
Introducing our finalists: Projects
Technology Transformation Award – Chiron, Data Platform
“Can you come and help us with our data?”
The request could not have been more urgent. Six weeks into the first national lockdown, the UK remained gripped by a public health emergency without recent precedent and the data needed for informed and timely government decisions was also in high demand.
And that’s where BAE Systems came in.
We stepped into the maelstrom of the early days of the pandemic response working alongside myriad suppliers and civil servants from across government, and took just one week to stand up a proof of concept for mapping test results against postcode data.
We also plotted the end to end data flows for critical systems and within three weeks had begun to build a data platform to consolidate the vast array of data needed for he response and the emerging Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC). In only six weeks we had loaded our first dataset onto the platform and within 12 weeks had incorporated sufficient data to enable an 80 per cent reduction in effort to create a crucial weekly data report.
The platform, built at astonishing pace and to the strictest of security controls, continues to be a cornerstone of the UK’s pandemic response. And critically, it provides a solid foundation should it need to be exploited in other ways.
Technology Transformation Award – Second Generation Surveillance System
Virtually all of us have taken a Covid test at some point over the past couple of years. But what happens to the data? Where does it go?
Well, for nearly 10 years, results for reportable infectious diseases and, most recently, Covid, have been housed in the Second Generation Surveillance System (SGSS), a BAE Systems-designed reporting system used by what was Public Health England (PHE) to track and report on the spread of infectious diseases. Crucial to its operation is its algorithm, which is designed to group together different individual tests for the same person, thereby avoiding multiple counts of the same disease with the same individual.
When the pandemic hit, the SGSS initially coped well but, as case numbers continued to spiral and the data became absolutely core to the public health response, the system’s 10 year old capacity of no more than 20,000 test results a day had become insufficient.
And that’s when BAE Systems reunited with PHE operational team to meet the challenge.
Over nine crucial months, when the response to the pandemic was evolving, operating under a fierce media and regulatory spotlight, our engineering upgrades integrated with six external health systems, migrated seamlessly to the cloud for greater resilience and vastly improved capacity from 18,000 to 200,000 test results per day.
The critical data extracts and reports that SGSS produces every morning were delivered on schedule to the highest levels of government throughout.
Social Value Award – ANPR and County Lines
From Manchester to Maidstone, Cornwall to Cambridge, no city, town or village in the UK is immune to the scourge of County Lines.
Fuelled by organised crime, these cross-regional drug dealing networks leave a trail of exploited vulnerable adults and children in their wake, import violence into previously peaceful areas and devastate communities up and down the country.
Combatting County Lines is not only a ministerial priority, it’s also a matter of public safety. Everyone has a stake in safeguarding public health, reducing crime, and protecting vulnerable people in our communities.
And that’s exactly where the UK’s 15,000-strong network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras comes in. Since 2015, BAE Systems has been supporting the National ANPR Service (NAS) programme, whereby number plates are instantly cross-referenced against a database of vehicles of interest, with complex searches returned in minutes, not hours.
More recently, as delivery partner for Home Office Innovation Law Enforcement, we have worked with six Police Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) to enhance and develop ANPR capabilities to combat County Lines criminality.
In this role, we worked with law enforcement partners across six UK regions to design, deploy and iterate a series of pilots which have led to over 100 arrests, £3.3 million of Class A drug seizures, and improved data driven identification of Organised Crime Groups. Home Office economists quantified that £1.4 million in monetary benefits were achieved across the first three pilot sites – a figure which will grow as analysis continues across the other three ROCUs.
Introducing our finalists: Individuals
Team Leader Consultant of the Year Award – Jessica Ridout
Meet Jess Ridout. It’s fair to say that hers is not a typical consulting background.
For starters, she was a teenager with a penchant for troublemaking – so much so that, in the end, her dad refused to continue to cover the cost of her private education. After university, her first job was in banking. No client interaction here but plenty of digging into data stores, not to mention time to indulge her passion for snowboarding. But not for Jess the ease of regular alpine jaunts and the delights of après ski – she went and qualified as a snowboard instructor.
Fast forward to today and Jess is leading a large team of consultants spearheading the delivery of Project Cerberus, an advanced Border Risking and Targeting Capability which brings together and analyses diverse data in real time to help easily and quickly detect and combat fraud, crime and illegal migration.
It’s a role which requires data expertise in abundance, check; empathy and responsiveness to an eclectic group’s needs, check; and a crystal clear understanding of the myriad challenges of safeguarding nearly 8,000 miles of UK coastline, check.
Jess’s role extends beyond her client responsibilities, however. As one of the company’s most high profile team leaders, she goes out of her way to mentor large numbers of junior colleagues – something she has done in a variety of capacities since 2014.
Always looking for new ways to achieve impact; always looking for ways to turn objectives into reality; Jess describes herself as “a consultant to my fingertips”.
Clients and colleagues alike would surely agree.
Inclusion Award – Fathima Rahman: Understanding Islam
“The best among you are those who bring greatest benefits to many others.” Bukhari 8:73:56
To be a Muslim today is not without its challenges. Unfortunately, Islamophobia and stereotypes still linger, misinformation can flow and misunderstandings all too often take root.
Fathima Rahman knows all about these difficulties. As a young British Muslim she’s experienced them in many forms all her life. But she’s also not one to settle for the status quo.
Shortly after starting work on the BAE Systems graduate scheme, and in addition to her client responsibilities, she took over the running of what was then the company’s Muslim Network, a small group with just six employees on its global distribution list.
Under her leadership, and in just 18 months, it has transformed into a beacon of inclusivity, with a fast rising membership and diverse array of events all testament to Fathima’s indefatigability and determination to make a real difference in the lives of Muslims – and non-Muslims – across the company.
Now named Understanding Islam, this Employee Resource Group has become a vibrant community where Muslim and non-Muslim employees come together to break down barriers, develop greater knowledge and build relationships.
With about 230 members based all around the world, including 15 UK civil servants, Understanding Islam is also working with its counterparts in the British government, as well as other faith-based networks, to foster empathy, tackle misconceptions and contribute towards an open and welcoming environment for all – at BAE Systems and beyond.
Inclusion Award – Rebs Foran-Coutts: VetNet
It’s not easy leaving the military.
Gone is the clear structure, set routine and chain of command. Suddenly, you’re taking life-changing decisions in isolation and adapting to a very unfamiliar pace of life.
Transitioning into this new world does not come easy – something Rebs Foran-Coutts knows about all too well. A military career cut short, together with a variety of physical and mental health challenges, left her reliant on a daily cocktail of opiate-based medication. And that’s not all.
Arriving with high hopes at BAE Systems a few years ago, she was greeted by a lack of tailored support and a general lack of understanding about the needs, wants and ways of a veteran. She decided there and then that this had to change.
Fast forward to today, and new arrivals can count on the presence of VetNet, a new Veterans Network. Open to all, it provides an inclusive community for individuals to share and learn from each other, as well as providing mentoring, support and a calendar of events and training.
Thanks to Rebs and her colleagues, VetNet now numbers nearly 700 members across the entire BAE Systems Group – with more joining every month – and is a key part of BAE Systems’ Gold Award in the Armed Forces Covenant.
From their first day onwards, VetNet is ensuring that BAE Systems is a great place to work for veterans and reservists, and is right there with them as they step forward into their new life.