Originally, he started out wanting to be a farmer, and although driving a tractor and fixing agricultural machinery was fun, he needed land. His family never owned any, so he borrowed some, and his first crop was a small field of rhubarb.
He got pleasure from rescuing cars in distress, and with guidance from his engineering Uncle Roy, studied for a National Diploma in Agricultural Engineering, which was passed with distinctions. This led to an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Aston, in Birmingham. He was sponsored by Metro Cammell, train makers to the world, and after graduation, was appointed as Metro Cammell’s man in Hong Kong, for the Mass Transit Railway train fleet.
He won the Sir Stanley Herbert Whitelegg Memorial Travel Scholarship in 1974, awarded once every two years by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and spent time with train manufacturers and operators in Europe, seeing first-hand the various systems for producing and using different types of train fleets.
Dreams of agricultural success had faded into the dim past, and on return from Hong Kong, he was appointed as Production Control Manager in the Metro Cammell factory. He introduced a new progress control system for the shop floor to improve production efficiency and on-time delivery. One of Metro Cammell’s competitors, Alstom, bought the company, and promptly shut it down. He moved on to Strachan & Henshaw, in Bristol, where he introduced an IBM mainframe computer system for controlling production across a range of products, for both the nuclear fuel industry and the Royal Navy.
With recessions looming in both of Strachan and Henshaw’s main market areas, he moved back into the rail market area, and was appointed as Contract Manager for the 72-strong fleet of new trains for the extension of the London Docklands Light Railway. Having successfully delivered those, he established the plan for upgrading the signalling system of the fully automated trains, to enable system capacity to be increased, and service reliability improved.
Knowledge of rail infrastructure systems and their interfaces with train systems was increased, and experience in how to make the complexity of interactions more reliable and easier to maintain, was obtained over a series of different assignments as a consultant. Notable amongst the variety of challenging work was getting acceptance to the environmental impacts of an elevated rail system through an urban environment. Noise and vibration were key issues for that. Another was the task of bringing national rail performance back to previous levels, after rolling contact fatigue was found to have become an epidemic due to changes in rail maintenance system regimes. This resulted in him joining a dedicated tiger team of global specialists, to identify the source of the problem, to establish workable solutions for resolution, and implement the solutions throughout the UK rail network.
Rolling stock and depots work at Crossrail, which in its time was the largest civil engineering programme of work in Europe, was able to benefit from his wealth of knowledge and experience in train and rail infrastructure systems, to good effect.
Now, running his own consultancy business, Geoff is able to take a holistic thinking approach to apply project, technical, systems, and design management skills across the spectrum of the project and systems lifecycle, to a wide range of problems, to add real value to client’s businesses and to effectively deal with the issues that are of highest concern.
He published his book Sensational Systems in 2018 which collects together the important lessons from his hard-won experience in project and system delivery and presents them in a structured methodology and simple to understand procedures and processes.
Geoff is able to provide coaching, mentoring, and consulting services across a range of industries and business sizes. He can also take training, speaking, TV, and radio engagements.