Pagabo News

Paying tribute to Lord Bob Kerslake

05 July 2023

Anyone who came into contact with Lord Bob Kerslake knows the gigantic impact he had, and his long career of influencing change speaks for itself. This week, our industry lost a key figurehead with his passing following a short period of ill health. For us, Lord Kerslake was more than an industry figurehead – he was a colleague.

Our group chief executive Gerard Toplass reflects on working closely with Lord Kerslake and the legacy he leaves for both our organisation and the wider industry.

My first encounter with Bob was in November 2019, when we were seated together at a House of Lords dinner after both speaking at an event. Through our conversation, his passion for better procurement and generating social value was evident and he was incredibly interested in what we were building at Pagabo.

The following week saw us catching up on various business ventures, which saw me – somewhat cheekily – asking Bob to get involved with the business. Needless to say we were thrilled to announce his appointment as non-executive chairman of Pagabo in April 2020.

Speaking at the time, Bob described Pagabo as “a hugely exciting business and a challenger brand in the sector,” – a standard we strive to hold ourselves to and have been able to push forward with thanks to his advisory position.

Within this role, he brought a depth of knowledge and expertise about construction, procurement and the workings of government. His thoughtful character provided fresh perspectives and gave guidance on the potential Pagabo could fulfil as it continued to develop and grow. Bob’s role evolved as we did, moving to become strategy director for The 55 Group in April 2021 as our parent organisation was established.

Of course, his status helped reinforce the position we hold in the market, but most importantly his passion about people, communities and social value wholly aligned with everything we strive to do.

His deep understanding of social value and how to make the biggest positive impact possible helped us transform the role social value plays in our business, taking it beyond something that sits alongside everything we do and truly embedding it into everything we do. He has had a profound impact on Pagabo, and this integration of social value into the procurement process with Pagabo will see that legacy continue to steer us into the future.

While Bob began to wind down his commitments to the business during the early stages of his illness to focus on his health, he continued to consult and work with us, driven by enjoyment of the difference he was able to make through our collaboration.

His involvement in our partnership with UKREiiF has seen us collectively establish the event as a key part of the sector’s annual calendar, and we will always be grateful for the ample time he dedicated to that success – as well as lending his time to host talks to inspire the whole sector. Each year that the event rolls back around, we will reflect on the continued impact his legacy has.

Most of all, we will reflect on the person Bob was. His advice was second-to-none, but so was he. As colleagues and friends, we will miss his calmness and compassion, his sense of humour, and the time he always dedicated to making a difference to people as individuals.

Our heartful condolences go to Bob’s family, friends and all those lucky enough to know and work with him.

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