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Brilliant minds finding solutions to complex problems, made easy to understand. Making complex easy.

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The unique analytical skills of Natasha Golding, Commercial Manager at RPS

Within the commercial aspect of a multidisciplinary organisation comes unique challenges. Luckily for RPS, Natasha Golding has the experience and insight to employ unique solutions to tackle anything that comes her way.

22 February 2024 | 9 min read
Natasha Golding Image - Commercial Manager at RPS

When we compare Natasha’s immense wealth of knowledge and experience, impressive is an understatement. With a background in Law, Natasha has experience working with the Crown Prosecution Service, BP, Scania, University of Cambridge, Lloyds Bank, and many others before finding a home at RPS as a Commercial Manager within the Asset Survey & Inspection for the Clean Water and Geospatial teams.

Though new to the RPS family, Natasha Golding is already making strides, building plans, and collaborating with project managers, directors, and stakeholders to place RPS in the best position possible in the industry to create change and solve tomorrow’s challenges today. Natasha’s rare intuition and knowledge are vital to ensuring RPS can thrive and continue to create a significant difference in our communities. 

Hear from Natasha herself as she details her legal accomplishments, her encounter with possible vampires (yes, vampires!) and the steps she’s taking to take RPS to the next level.

How did you end up joining RPS? And why RPS?

I began to feel stagnant in my old role, in that I wasn’t learning anything new, and I needed a new challenge. I decided to join RPS (as opposed to joining a different company where I had also been offered the position of Commercial Manager) because it felt as if I’d be joining an entity that didn’t just view values as a tick box exercise but actually strived towards demonstrating them.

What does your job entail?

My role is multi-faceted. Working closely with the Operations Director, Gareth Ingram and other internal stakeholders, I look to improve upon Business Development where it is needed; conducting cost base analyses for various profit centres within the teams and seeing where we can maximise profits and drive our internal costs down; looking at our external suppliers to see if RPS are receiving value for money from companies that supply us with equipment from everything to our PPE to the vehicles we hire; reviewing, drafting and negotiating legal documents i.e. Framework Agreements, Supply of Goods and/Services Agreements, Tender documents etc and advising the business accordingly.

What does a normal day look like for you? What decisions may arise?

As cliched as it may sound “no two days are the same”. In one day, I can go from reviewing rates within Framework Agreements to see if we can approach clients for an increase in line with CPIH and/or Real Living Wage and working with the relevant internal stakeholders to calculate said increase, to reviewing Status Reports for each profit centre looking at revenue, billing, accrual amounts, to researching companies in preparation for a retendering exercise or reviewing and marking up a contract and providing legal advice.

Any decisions I make with regards these aspects (excluding the provision of legal advice) are never made in a silo. It’s a collaborative effort with Operations Directors and Regional Managers as it’s important that as a team we’re all in agreement with each other as to the way forward. With regards to the legal advice I provide, when reviewing and/or negotiating a contract, my primary aims are to protect the business from unnecessary commercial, financial, and legal risk.

How did you gain and build your expertise over the years? (Education, qualifications)

After gaining my Law Degree I initially went to work for the Crown Prosecution Service and was there for 6 years working with CPS lawyers and instructing barristers on cases ranging from petty theft to murder. I ended my time in the service as a Business Manager for a Witness Care Unit. In 2006, I decided to leave the service and make the move to Commercial Law which would see me move to Dublin to work for one of the top 5 law firms in the Republic in their Commercial Technology department handling Intellectual Property matters.

 After 18 months, I was seconded to the Litigation Department where I was part of the litigation team fighting for fund managers who had lost investor monies in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi Scheme. After 3 years in Ireland, I came back to the UK and spent a short amount of time working in the legal department within an investment bank but became bored very quickly and decided that I would work for myself which I did for circa 9 years. Working with clients such as BP, Scania, University of Cambridge, and Lloyds Bank to name a few, I would provide clients with legal advice and review, draft and negotiate contracts on their behalf. Fair to say that it is within these 9 years that I “cut my commercial teeth” so to speak as I could see some of my clients doing things which resulted in money being wasted and it just didn’t make sense to me so I began to offer up solutions as to how to do things differently.

 My first client was DePuy Synthes (part of the Johnson & Johnson family) and my last client was Oxford Biomedica which was one of the firms to manufacture and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine alongside Astra Zeneca. Ironic that my days of being self-employed began and ended with a Pharma company! In 2021, I joined Ricardo Rail as a Commercial Manager working on both the consultancy and certification side of rail and then their Energy & Environment sector (Power, Planning & Solutions and Waste & Resource Management Teams) as a Commercial Manager.

What is one of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on? And why?

The most interesting matter I have ever worked on wasn’t a project but a case. R v Bower, Lewis and Gibson [2003]. As the Paralegal, I instructed the Prosecution Counsel on this matter and the poor man is probably still in therapy! The defendants were devil worshippers! Now, I don’t mean “let's run around and pretend we’re vampires” No, the defendants truly thought they were vampires and were put on this earth to do the devil’s work. They were prosecuted for religiously aggravated harassment against a Church of England vicar and his family in Southampton and back in 2003. Not many cases were being prosecuted for this type of offence. They went to great lengths to prove whatever point it was they were attempting to make, e.g. writing letters in their blood and sending them to the vicar, building a pentangle and placing it outside of the church entrance. 

The evidence against them was irrefutable, especially the photographs of them drinking each other’s blood (gruesome I know!). In the end, the two male defendants were sent to prison and I’m not sure what happened to the female defendant. It was a real team effort. It was one of those cases where the Constabulary and the CPS saw eye to eye on everything, and it may be surprising to hear that, this isn’t always the case. I had been on the receiving end of many an angry phone call from a Police Officer or Detective saying, “Tell me why the CPS has decided not to go to trial with my case?” Happens a lot! This was different, there was a real camaraderie between the Constabulary and the CPS (again, not always the case and it’s highly questionable if the two agencies even like each other!) and we were all aiming for the same goal.

 I’ve learnt that even in my work today, that kind of synchronised thinking goes a long way to success. There’s nothing worse than being involved in a project where individuals have their agenda and cannot come to a common understanding, it merely stifles progress and causes discord. For my efforts, I received the largest bulb of garlic I had ever (and have ever) seen courtesy of Hampshire Constabulary on the first day of trial with a note that read “To Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Good Luck!”

What makes this work so special for you? What’s your favourite part?

I get to have a “helicopter view” of the particular part of the business within which I work. In previous roles, I have been part of the Project Delivery Teams meaning that the majority of my focus was on the commercial, financial and legal feasibility of individual projects as opposed to looking at how a team/unit was performing compared to other teams/units within the Plc and how that performance required improvement and contributed to the financial year end of the company as a whole. I like being able to see the bigger picture and this role provides that.

What's the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career? Or wish to follow a career path like yours?

I think the best career advice I can give someone would be if you’re thinking of studying Law and want to work in industry, spend no more than 3-5 years with a law firm, then “get out and never look back!” Although providing invaluable experience, law firms can be cutthroat and unforgiving especially if they’re huge city firms and it really can be a dog-eat-dog world. 

3 years was enough for me and any time I took on a law firm as a client during my years of being self-employed I was reminded of why it just wasn’t the environment for me. There’s a much more friendly, and relaxed atmosphere working in-house.

How does your role help contribute to a better world? For RPS and everyone else?

I wouldn’t necessarily describe my role as having a direct impact on the world we live in, but I can see that the work the Clean Water and Geospatial teams undertake certainly does. Clean Water is a commodity that many of us probably take for granted so to enable communities to have access to this is great, especially because many of the large water companies are having to answer questions about the pollution of our rivers and the benefits of using Geospatial Technology and Data can only be a good thing if it assists governments and private companies in planning for the future developments and managing existing structures. 

For RPS, I hope that my role can add value to the teams and the business as a whole by providing robust commercial advice enabling the relevant internal stakeholders to make sound business decisions for the benefit of us all.

Fun Q&A: Getting to know Natasha

1.         What does your ideal Sunday look like?

Watching F1 (screaming at the TV and cheering on McLaren whilst secretly wishing Verstappen would suffer some power unit failure) – F1 is my primary sport. Alternatively, I catch the odd Spurs game or watch American Football. I also like to paint on canvas (Acrylic, yet to work my way up to Oil).

2.         What’s your proudest accomplishment? Personal or professional.

The years I spent being self-employed. I was rarely out of work and built a good client base.

3.         What’s your favourite movie?

Goodfellas.

4.         What is your favourite meal?

Chinese Food.

5.         Favourite song/album?

“Meteora” album by Linkin Park.

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