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Dr David Boulton

Principal – Risk

"The work remains challenging, with both technical and managerial issues arising."

Career stage: Principal

Joined: 2002

Practice: Risk

Office: Cambridge

I first heard of Arthur D. Little a number of years before I ending up joining, coming across the company as a highly respected and strong competitor. I remember remarking at the time that they looked a good option for a future career move, without really thinking seriously that I would end up joining. My career started in more of an engineering development environment. I graduated from Oxford University with a general engineering degree but specialised quickly in software and electronic engineering, putting the skills I was acquiring to use with the BBC, developing broadcast related equipment. Seeking a more commercial challenge, I moved to a consultancy firm and at the same time began to work in the safety and risk environment, where I quickly focused on transport systems. After a few years I felt very much that a new challenge was needed and some time later, found myself starting work in the Cambridge office for Arthur D. Little. At the time I was still completing a part time PhD and clearly remember, after being with the firm for about three months, having to urgently request time off owing to a submission crisis that has arisen after some date confusion. I very much appreciated the understanding I received as I disappeared for a few weeks in order to bury myself in my thesis, subsequently successfully submitted.

My work has remained focused on transport systems, in particular capitalising on our strong presence in rail but also with a significant element of highways work involved too. Travel is an integral part of the work, with frequent trips around Europe as well as less regular visits to North America, Hong Kong, India and Japan to name a few locations. The work remains challenging, with both technical and managerial issues arising. When a project is nearing the commencement of revenue service, there is scrutiny from all angles and dialogue with senior management within supplier organisations and operators is common. To come through such scrutiny, it is important that we work well as a team, and it is this teamwork which is the foundation of our strong performance in this area. We test our positions against one another throughout a project, so that at all times we are confident in our position and one another.

As a principal, the role that I undertake covers a wide range of responsibilities. As well as being significantly involved in project delivery, there is of course the winning of the work itself, so time has to be found for strengthening relationships with new clients as well as developing them with new ones. We also regularly revisit our strategy for our own future development and growth and this is something with which I enjoy being involved. We also take advantage, when such opportunities are available, of working with colleagues in other parts of Arthur D. Little around the world. The risk management skills that we bring can be a significant differentiator for other parts of Arthur D. Little, who are dealing in more mainstream Management Consulting, something that brings benefit to all concerned. The stimulation of all of this is what attracts many of us to the firm. It can be exhausting on occasions but exhilarating too.

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