Celebrating 25 years of JBA!

This week as we celebrate the 25th anniverary of JBA, Jeremy Benn, Executive Chairman  shares his reflections on our growth and success over the last 25 years.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020 marked JBA’s 25th year of business. When we established JBA in 1995 – the year in which the ‘C-word’ referred to Eric Cantona infamously assaulting a spectator not a global pandemic, Barings Bank collapsed, eBay was established, John Major became Conservative Party leader, and pubs in England were permitted to remain open throughout Sunday for the first time (not all bad then) – our vision was not to be the biggest, but we definitely wanted to be the best. Our aspiration was to create a business with great people, producing great work, for clients who enjoyed working with us.

We quickly established a reputation for technical ability, for truly innovative ideas and for being a team of really nice people to work with. We have achieved 25 years of sustained growth and have built a great and valued client base. There are now over 650 of us in the business, we operate in seven countries and we deliver c.1,200 projects a year worldwide. We have established ourselves as one of the leading internationally known environmental, engineering and risk management consultancies.

From the start we have had a clear set of Environmental, Social and Governance Values:Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) values

These values capture the ideals and principles within which JBA has grown and will continue to grow. Our growth has been steady and organic and is based on continual investment in our staff and business – including through the 2008-10 recession and the current one.

How do we achieve our success and growth?

I attribute our success to a number of things. It comes from our people, our focus (we know what we are good at and what we aren’t), our hard work, continual innovation and the seizing of opportunities.

Also, our independence. As an employee-owned business we can and do take a long-term view and success is measured across many metrics, such as creating new early career positions, working in new countries and areas, as well as the financial ones of turnover and margin. We remain in control of what we do and when we do it. We have treated others including our wonderful suppliers how we wish to be treated and our prompt payment and collaborative behaviours with them are widely recognised and appreciated.

We have not been afraid of trying out new things. Not all of them have worked. If they don’t we only have ourselves to answer to, we learn and we move on. Many of the things we have tried have worked, including pioneering the use of GPU processors for flood modelling and use of hand-held and remote sensors for data acquisition, to name just two.

Life-long learning

From the start we have been passionate about life-long learning and R&D. We invest over 3% of our turnover year on year in research and development. Annually we invest about £1.1 million in staff learning and development within JBA.

In our short history over 600 staff have passed through our graduate programme and 50 staff have completed apprenticeships with a more or less equal gender balance and a strong proportion from BAME backgrounds. At the current time we have about 100 and 20 staff on each programme respectively.

Through our creation and funding of the JBA Trust, our support to learning and development extends more widely too – through outreach to schools, preparation of learning videos and materials, and provision of bursaries for research and academic study. Our funding of the JBA Trust to date exceeds £1 million and over 80 individuals have benefitted from course fee and other support from the Trust. My colleagues also do great volunteer work across a range of sectors and activities. I find this inspiring.

Looking to the future

I thought it appropriate then to mark our 25th year in two ways.

The first reflects our commitment to sustainability. Our commitment to the ‘fourth pillar’ – knowledge and learning – will continue and for our 25th year we will have an additional bursary open to all to support postgraduate study in climate science/adaptation.

We will also accelerate delivery of our new Carbon and Resource Use Management Plan (CRuMP). This sets out our ambition and pathway to becoming a carbon neutral business and will be published on our website during September.

Want to know more?

For more information about JBA at 25 years email Jeremy Benn.

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