Derek Drysdale


Derek is a world recognised expert in Lean Construction. He is the Chair of the Lean Construction Institute in the UK and a Visiting Professor at the School of the Built Environment at Salford University. He is also Divisional Director- Lean Improvement- Highways England reporting to Executive Director of Highways England. (Since 2009)

His career has involved numerous senior executive level positions within large client organisations across roads and highways, railways, nuclear and general construction.  He has managed a number of high profile and complex change programs in a number of sectors for example, the highly successful Implementation for the Roads Programme Review (Nichols Review) commissioned for the Secretary of State for Transport in UK.

Derek’s other achievements include:

  • Introducing and embedding Value Management, Six Sigma and Lean within major organisations. In particular the deployment of Lean across the £3.5B Highways England (HE – previously Highways Agency) business with over £100M of savings to date
  • Management at senior level of large teams (up to 250 in-house staff and 2000 supply chains support teams) and a track record of delivering major infrastructure and technology projects in the highways, railway and nuclear industry including nuclear decommissioning
  • Delivery of a number of high profile Projects, for example Thelwall Viaduct Renewal (delivered four months ahead of schedule and winner of the HE ‘You Make a Difference’ Award), Piccadilly Station Renewal, Train Protection Warning System, M60 Junctions 5-8 and the Settle Carlisle Railway Renewal
  • Responsible for the strategic introduction of Lean Improvement across HE’s £3B p.a. supply chain and deployment of lean across the HE organization comprising 3,500 staff. To date efficiency savings of £120M with a further £250M targeted over 2015-2020
  • Working as a chartered Civil Engineer and previously chartered Nuclear Engineer responsible for some £2B of infrastructures projects including a period working in the US for UK Nuclear organisations.
  • Project and Programme Management at OGC level 4+ with 25 years’ experience as a Project Manager, Programme Manager and Director. Also an OGC reviewer for ‘high risk programmes such as Defence and Nuclear new build.
  • Trained to Six Sigma Green belt level and a senior practitioner and facilitator in Value Management techniques and strategic and tactical deployment of lean.
  • Advanced Procurement and Contract administration of major projects and programs including strategic direction of supply chains.



Lean Improvement Program | Highways England| 2009-current | Divisional Director

Reporting direction to the Executive Director of HE, Derek is responsible for developing and deploying the Lean Improvement programme across all aspects of the HE business (500 personnel). With a direct team of 25, he developed both the HE staff and supply chain in Lean methodologies.

Roads Programme | Highways England | 2008-2009 | Asset Performance Director

Derek led a multifunctional Engineering and environmental team responsible for the performance of motorway and trunk road assets across England. This team has approx. 150 staff and an operating budget of £6M p.a.

In conjunction to this role, Derek was responsible for all engineering and environmental aspects relating to delivering the Roads Programme valued at £15B over 10 years.

  • Company:Lean Improvement – Highways England
  • Short Bio:Former Divisional Director
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