Rick Willmott became executive chairman in 2024 and is the fifth generation of the Willmott family to lead our company since we were established in 1852.
Rick joined in 1982 as a management trainee were he gained experienced working at operational level on a number of projects. In 1993, he was seconded for a year on the Government’s Construction Sponsorship Directorate with the remit of promoting UK Construction and consultancy within the wider European community in a joint initiative with the DTI.
In 2008, Rick was appointed Willmott Dixon's Chief Executive, a role he held until the end of 2023. During his time as CEO, Rick's leadership has been marked by a focus on growth, diversity & inclusion, sustainability, and social responsibility.
A more diverse workplace
Rick has led in our strategy to become a more diverse and inclusive company. This included setting the target to achieve gender parity by 2030. In recent years, we have been listed as a top European company in the FT's annual Diversity Leaders list, coming higher than any other UK contractor. We have also featured four times in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women guide, and in 2022 Willmott Dixon was declared the UK's best workplace according to Best Companies.
A focus on net zero
This is an issue of personal importance to Rick, and under his guidance, we have won two Queen's Awards for Enterprise in recognition for our work to drive sustainability.
We intend that our company, along with all new build and refurbishment projects delivered, will be net zero carbon in operation by 2030 without the need to off-set emissions. This is all set down in our sustainable development strategy, ‘Now or Never; our decisive decade.’ This strategy also intends that our supply chain partners become net zero carbon in operation by 2040.
Currently, Willmott Dixon has been a net zero or carbon neutral business since 2012, with all unavoidable carbon emitted each year being off-set by investing in high-quality carbon reduction projects across the world. We are making strides here, which include:
- absolute carbon emissions going down by 48% since our 2018 baseline year
- absolute construction waste being cut by 58% since 2012 – saving £30m in a decade
Purpose beyond Profit
Another priority for Rick is that Willmott Dixon has a 'purpose beyond profit'. Our focus on leaving a legacy in communities has seen Willmott Dixon secure both a Queen's Award for Enterprise and a King's Award for Enterprise in the category of Promoting Opportunity.
Rick set up the Willmott Dixon Foundation soon after becoming CEO to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their potential. He said:
"When you scratch below the surface in the communities where we work, the level of deprivation is staggering. We can make a difference - it's the role of big business to make more of its purpose."
Making a difference has seen the company invest over £10m in community projects and help nearly 10,000 people improve their life chances.
Key initiatives include helping ex-offenders find work on release by upskilling them at five HM Prisons with our Building Lives Academies - which equips prison inmates with dry-lining skills so they can enjoy a rewarding career when released. See a film below of the latest one launched at HMP Lincoln.