Frank Tudor, Head of Procurement at Transport for Greater Manchester

Being an integral part of a drive for better fares and ticketing solutions in Greater Manchester is just one aspect that motivates Frank Tudor FCIPS, Head of Procurement at Transport for Greater Manchester.

A 30-year procurement career sees Frank now leading a team of 11 that, among other things, will be helping to meet the aims of the Mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

Frank describes the team’s portfolio as diverse. From managing all the traffic lights in Greater Manchester and supporting cycle lane development, to advanced signage for walkers and the running of Metrolink, the Greater Manchester tram network, his need to align available resources to an extensive list of ambitions will be a familiar challenge to many.

Frank said: “All third party spend, which was £365m in 2017, comes under our remit. Late last year we awarded the contracts for the capital projects of Wigan and Tameside Interchanges. The rail bus interchanges and the infrastructure for Metrolink get a lot of political interest and everyone wants a Metrolink on their doorstep. There’s a lot of political pull on the somewhat limited amount of money we’ve got to spend.

“Since Andy Burnham was elected Mayor in 2017 he has set out some significant ambitions, with transport at the heart of his agenda. These range from campaigning for the electrification of the Trans- Pennine line, to promoting ‘active travel’, which includes walking and cycling.”

Frank’s journey

A graduate in International Relations, with a second degree in Policy Management and Government, Frank’s experience as a senior practitioner means he is now a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply.

Like many, Frank says he ‘fell’ into procurement: “After I graduated I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went to a careers fair and got talking to a guy from BAe Systems. The next thing you know I was being interviewed for a procurement engineering role on military aircraft. In an interview that overlooked what was then the Tornado final production line, it became a bit of a no brainer.

“After BAe Systems, I moved to what was Westland Helicopters, working on the Apache attack helicopter program and I then moved into contracting for the then Department of Social Security. Immediately before Transport for Greater Manchester I led a programme to save the Ministry of Defence a quarter of a billion pounds. I also worked at Barclays, and at the Department for Work and Pensions in a whole variety of roles around supplier relationship management.

Biggest accomplishment

“Working at the DWP in 2009-10, the economic downturn was at its height and unemployment numbers were going steadily up. People who called the 0800 number to JobCentres on their mobile phones could be paying between 15-49p per minute.

“I was asked by the Permanent Secretary and the Secretary of State, Yvette Cooper, if we could do a deal with the mobile operators to get them to ‘zero rate’ DWP 0800 numbers from mobile phones. It was a really difficult sell in to the mobile operators because they would lose revenue. We got one to agree after quite a few months of negotiation and then within a matter of weeks, they all agreed. We told them we were going to make a big announcement on the news and asked whether they wanted to be the mobile operator not on the list. That was a good deal at that moment in time.

“Very early on in that conversation OFCOM had said they couldn’t help, that the market just wouldn’t go for it. Later OFCOM approached us and asked us how we did it. Five years later everybody in the country who called any 0800 number from a mobile became part of the regulatory regime. I’m not claiming credit for the fact that you can dial a 0800 number from a mobile free of charge, but I can claim credit for doing the deal that ultimately led to it.  I think that just shows the power of procurement.”

The future

“In Greater Manchester we’re keen on taking maximum advantage of the Northern Powerhouse concept, a proposal to boost economic growth in the North of England.”

“The Bus Services Bill gives us a whole range of additional opportunities, from enhanced partnerships with the bus operators, to franchising. There’s also the Clean Air agenda, which is still very much a work in progress and is getting a significant degree of press coverage. Ultimately that’s going to be a Mayoral decision, but the options do include a charging regime in for some workplace vehicle parking, as per in Nottingham. Whatever the Mayor and the Council leaders across Manchester decides is right to do, we will need to implement it within TfGM.

“If you look at our existing workload and what is potentially coming down the line, and look at our relatively small procurement resources, you’ve got an interesting balance in terms of serving the existing business with making sure we are truly aligned for what the future may bring.

“There’s a lot of hard work to do between now and the next couple of years. And I think that if we can be successful in delivering the Mayoral challenges Andy Burnham has given us then we will absolutely go from strength to strength. One of the really nice things about TfGM is that we’ve truly embraced that agenda.”

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