Kevin Osbon outside Southwell Minster home to the 'Leaves of Southwell' project delivered by Focus Consultants (2022)

Construction consultancy founder appointed as NTU Alumni and Industry Fellow

The founder partner at multi-disciplinary consultancy company Focus Consultants has been appointed as a Nottingham Trent University Alumni and Industry Fellow.

Kevin Osbon is using the opportunity to share details of how he has built a close relationship with his former university and hopes to encourage others to follow in his footsteps.

He believes that more professionals in their 50s could be sharing their expertise and knowledge with the younger generation.

And, rather than retiring early, he is urging them to consider opportunities for working with their local universities instead.

Kevin studied as a slightly mature student at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) in the late 1980s during the period that it transitioned from Trent Polytechnic to NTU, gaining a BSc Hons in Construction Management in 1990.

Four years later he set up Focus Consultants in his dining room in Beeston, Nottingham.

Since then, the multi-disciplinary company has grown to have offices in Nottingham, Leicester and London with a £6 million annual fee turnover managing over £300 million of construction projects each year – becoming a leading consultancy in the construction, sustainability, cultural and regeneration sectors.

For the past eight years Kevin has been revisiting the corridors of Nottingham Trent University…this time as a lecturer, having gradually stepped away from frontline consultancy following a structured Management Buy In (MBI) of Focus Consultants. He remains majority shareholder and operates as joint chairperson, now largely overseeing the business.

Although still retaining an interest and a role at Focus, his reduced hours, year on year, gave him the opportunity to teach construction management, quantity surveying and construction commercial management, contract administration and control and finance to NTU undergraduates.

He hopes that by highlighting his professional journey, he can encourage others who have a wealth of experience in their respective careers to find a way to share that knowledge with the younger generation.

“When you come to the point of stepping away from frontline consultancy or construction work then all of that intellectual capital should not be lost,” explains Kevin, 59. “The over 50s have vast resources. I have basically had another career in the eight years that I have been working with NTU – gradually increasing my involvement from teaching to writing papers, contributing to books and various other initiatives. It’s been extremely stimulating.

“I never thought I would become a published author or be part of a team that won an internationally significant award for an academic paper, but that’s what has happened as a result of taking on a teaching role at NTU.

“Some over 50s took early retirement after the pandemic and the government is now encouraging them to return to the workplace. This age group has a lot of wisdom and experience to share with the younger generation. They have a lot to give. In my view, the over 50s are a vastly untapped resource.

“There are stacks of people out there like me, who have had a successful first career but who could go on to have a second successful career in teaching, mentoring or training.”

Not only has Kevin’s latest position benefited him personally, it has also brought a number of benefits both to Focus Consultants and to NTU. The University has been able to tap into the knowledge and resources of the Focus team, while Focus has been able to recruit skilled graduates to join the business. The partnership between the two organisations has recently been formalised in a three-year framework looking to provide deliverables such as:

  • Knowledge exchange and building links with industry
  • Provision of lecturers and guest lecturers
  • Fostering talent and providing workplace opportunities for students and graduates
  • Providing support and expertise for the new Centre for Sustainable Construction and Retrofit
  • Collaboration on project work to facilitate hands-on student work experience
  • Contributions to research initiatives leading to published works

Kevin added: “Little did I know that when I studied at Nottingham Trent University in the late 1980s that I would return to the University as a lecturer towards the end of my career and become involved in research and various initiatives leading to a strategic partnership between my consultancy and NTU.

“I’ve enjoyed a very fulfilling career in consultancy and I’m very proud of the business that myself, my partners and my colleagues have built up over the past 30 years. It feels good to be giving something back to help future generations and it’s also been extremely positive for me personally to have had a second career teaching in my 50s.

“I would encourage the over 50s to consider ways that they can share their knowledge and skills. It’s certainly something that I am very pleased to have done and would recommend it to others, if it’s relevant and appropriate for them.”

Kevin’s journey as an alumni has been highlighted by Nottingham Trent University on its website where it focuses on the stories of its students