Meet Rhys: Our divisional director leading the way for Landmark and Heritage

We are thrilled to introduce Rhys Sumpton as our Divisional Director for our Landmark and Heritage division.

Our Landmark and Heritage market spans the nation’s most iconic historic and culturally important structures within London and the South East; from Southwark Cathedral to the Palace of Westminster, Café Royal to Cadogan Hall, and from the Newport Street Gallery to Chiswick House.

Rhys will continue to grow the division by actively engaging with our existing network and bringing new contacts and opportunities into the business. He will also provide leadership and focus for the team.

We’ve been speaking to Rhys to learn more about his background and plans for the division.

Tell us about your career so far

I studied law at university, but after working on Walter Lilly projects during the holidays, I realised my passion was in construction. So, I completed my degree and began a career in construction. Walter Lilly offered me a trainee position in 2007, whilst studying as a day release student at Kingston University and working on site. Following my graduation, I worked my way up the various roles at Walter Lilly, and I am honoured to now be a Divisional Director for the company.

What are your responsibilities as a new Divisional Director at Walter Lilly?

This position came about because the business is defining a new organisational structure regarding business development, project delivery, and maximising the staff’s skill set across our three respective divisions – High Quality Residential, Landmark and Heritage, and Science and Higher Education. As Divisional Director for Landmark and Heritage, I’ll be accountable for the division’s performance, including the successful delivery of projects to our clients’ satisfaction, overseeing a unique portfolio of projects we’re looking to secure, and managing the teams to deliver collaborative and sustainable growth.

What makes you great for this new role?

Firstly, 15 years at Walter Lilly have given me a great understanding of all aspects of the business, plus the Walter Lilly brand (and the values it represents) have become ingrained in me.

Secondly, I’ve learnt the necessary technical skills to be an effective Divisional Director. It’s important to understand the sensitivities of clients who are excited about the development of their building, but who also need to maintain their own ‘business-as-usual’ requirements when we’re at their place of work.

Finally, I love history and historical architecture, and I’m genuinely proud to be playing a part in protecting and preserving landmark and world heritage sites.

What are your goals for growing the Landmark and Heritage division?

Increasing repeat business, developing new relationships, and delivering quality projects will be crucial to our success. I also want to increase the diversity of projects within this division. For example, we’ve only worked on one gallery so far, but we did a fantastic job resulting in a RIBA Stirling Prize, so I’d like to add more arts and cultural projects to our portfolio.

What is your favourite / most memorable project at Walter Lilly to date?

My favourite project that Walter Lilly have carried out so far is the Newport Street Gallery in Vauxhall, where we repurposed a terrace of industrial buildings into a public space featuring a restaurant, offices, and six galleries. The two feature staircases in the building are a particular source of pride. It was a fantastic project for Walter Lilly to complete and worthy of its many prizes.

The work we have carried out to date at the Palace of Westminster, including restoration of the courtyards, Royal Gallery windows and refurbishment of the roofs has been an iconic location to be involved in. We’ve had so much satisfaction from repairing damaged parts of the old building and bringing them back to life. Our attention to detail makes the Palace look like it’s loved again. And a building like that should be loved!

What Landmark and Heritage projects are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

We’re currently refurbishing and reservicing Lambeth Palace, demonstrating that a historic building can be upgraded to accommodate 21st century services. It gives me pride and positivity to be involved in a project where sustainability is the primary objective. If we can make historic buildings more eco-friendly, the industry can also make this happen for modern developments.

There are also some exciting projects (potentially) coming up that we’re not able to mention just yet!

Tell us something interesting about you?

I have a passion for food and drink, and travel – I base a lot of my travels on gastronomy. Japan has been my favourite destination so far!

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