In our series of ‘5 minutes with…’ interviews, we meet the people behind the projects:
What does project management mean to you?
I operate as a facilitator, providing the effective management of a team to successfully deliver the client brief and objectives. I offer support and direction to the team throughout the process.
Which clients do you work with?
Principally I work with Hammerson, Global Mutual, Ellandi, Hermes and Lendlease.
Why did you choose to work in the commercial property sector?
The father of one of my University mates was an Equity Partner at Workman at the time (now retired) and the Manchester office needed someone to help in the Summer between my second and third year. Once I had completed my Building Surveying degree, I was taken on as part of the Graduate Scheme. I have not looked back, mainly because I thrive on the variety and challenges the commercial property sector brings.
What has been your standout moment at Workman so far?
Over the past 25 years there have been many along the way, from personal to team achievements. The project which stands out most for me was the replacement of the glazed roof at Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester.
A roof of more than 100 metres had to be replaced, without impacting the day-to-day operation of the centre. No scaffold poles could come down into the mall, so I found a solution that involved creating a structurally supported high-level crash deck just below the roof, which also included the required openings for smoke control to comply with the centre’s fire strategy.
When walking through the mall, it felt as if there was no work going on at all, so there was no impact on retailers and the general public.
Tell us how you have put your project training to its best use on a Workman project?
The Venture Project team took on the external cladding project at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre near Dudley last year for our client Ellandi. Having reviewed the whole specification and scope of the project, which was already under construction, we value engineered the project to bring it back within a manageable budget and controlled schedule for our client.
All projects will have similar and different challenges along the way. I find a consistent logical approach is the best way to resolve these, it’s about how to get from A to B in the most effective way without leaving the client or the team exposed.
What has been your biggest project management challenge, and how did you overcome it?
The new-build multi-storey car park at Centre Mk in Milton Keynes – there were programme issues early in the project and commercial pressures to open the car park for Christmas trade. We just about managed it, however there were some significant issues post practical completion. The main contractor then went into administration during the 12 months rectification period, so we used the retention monies to deal with snagging and outstanding works through an alternative contractor – a very helpful learning experience but one I’d like to avoid dealing with again!
What are your spare time pursuits and how do they contribute to your role at Workman?
Football’s my main sport: I enjoy both playing and watching any football. There’s nothing better these days though than watching my daughter, who plays at a high level with Bolton Wanderers, and Workman LLP also sponsors the team.
I believe that working together rather than as individuals delivers success. This serves to remind me of the importance of a cohesive team performance in my daily role as a project manager – we are each only as strong as the next link in the project chain.
What has been your most significant achievement outside work, and what did it teach you?
A personal achievement is the two marathons I’ve run (along with many half marathons). A strong mindset to keep going when times get tough can pull through the difficult moments – this also applies in the world of project delivery!
What’s your favourite building worldwide, and why?
Being a big sports fan, I think some of the modern stadia around the world are fascinating, not only the aesthetics and facilities, but the drama and the stories they create within them. I have great memories of what was the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, now called the Principality Stadium. That’s where my team Blackburn Rovers won the Worthington Cup in 2002. The roof was closed at the time, which was a novelty in those days and created a fantastic atmosphere.