Happy employees; happy clients

On the eve of Motion’s 20th anniversary, Insight quizzed Managing Director Phil Bell about the past, present and future.

Motion Managing Director Phil BellYou’re an accomplished business leader and transport planner.  Who are your role models?

PB: Undoubtedly Steve Gosling, with whom I set up Motion, and Richard Bettridge who established the infrastructure team here.  These two people have, in different ways, been an inspiration on my journey and offered me sound guidance and wise counsel over the years.

Looking back, what would you say to your 20-year-younger self?

PB: I’m not someone who tends to look back and regret much.  As everyone who knows me will agree, I live very much for the here and now.  If I see a job that needs doing, I’ll get on with it!

Like other businesses, Motion has weathered a number of significant storms.  What is your recipe for success?

PB: The resilience and integrity of our employees is our secret weapon.  I’ve been enormously proud of the way they have conducted themselves and risen to each and every challenge and opportunity we have faced.  Behind every achievement is a group of talented, creative and driven individuals.

We have also had the privilege of working alongside so many fantastic, loyal clients.  It’s been very rewarding to help them navigate those external challenges too.

What has been the most significant change in the field of transport planning?

PB: Increasingly, we have to overcome obstacles like tricky accesses to constrained sites, or the need to facilitate active travel.  The exciting thing is that transport planners are in pole position to help make places safe, attractive, accessible and, above all, sustainable for generations to come.

And how has the business evolved over the past two decades?

PB: Nowadays, Motion is so much more than transport and travel planning.  Infrastructure design is a major part of the business, enabling us to offer services at every stage of the planning process – pre, during and post application.  Highway and drainage design, and of course flood advice, are growing in demand.  We also have highly respected experts on water neutrality in the team.

Has the profile of clients changed much?

PB: We’ve always worked in the residential, retail, employment, healthcare, education and leisure sectors.  More recently, We’ve also earned a track record assisting renewable energy providers and installers, helping to deliver clean electricity to homes and business across the UK.

What do you think the next 20 years hold for Motion?

PB: There is no doubt climate change will continue to place even greater challenges on everyone involved in property development, particularly as we face increasing threats to the built environment from extreme weather events.

On a personal note, my own goals are simple: happy employees and happy clients!

What would you be doing if you weren’t leading Motion?

PB: Probably hitting the ski slopes!!  Seriously though, I’m passionate about buying and doing up houses and, of course, I love holidaying with my amazing wife, Louise.

An abridged version of this article first appeared in Issue 25 of Insight

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