5 Mins with Q & A

21st December 2021

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In our series of ‘5 minutes with…’ interviews, we meet the people behind the projects:

What does project management mean to you?

Project Management is about helping people get up when they fall down, dusting them off, pointing them in the right direction and watching them succeed.

Which clients do you work with?

I work with funds, institutions and private equity organisations. Federated Hermes, M&G Real Estate, Hammerson, Tristan Capital and KKR are those I’m working with most at present.

Why did you choose to work in the commercial property sector?

I can’t recall “choosing” to work in property but I’m glad this is where I ended up. Commercial property waxes and wanes with the economy meaning that methods quickly become obsolete. I like this uncertainty and enjoy the challenge of adapting to change.

What has been your standout moment at Workman so far?

We decided in the first lockdown to differentiate our extensive project experience from the rest of the firm. I helped develop our Venture projects brand. The process of defining a unique offer and developing a brand and marketing campaign was a fascinating process. We are just embarking on a new push for Venture, which is exciting.

Tell us how you have put your project training to its best use on a Venture project?

The Venture project management approach is anchored to the principle of delivering on the client’s business plan. The redevelopment of the buildings at NOMA, Manchester, required the sensitive restoration of listed buildings but the business plan required cutting-edge office space. Balancing the needs of the client’s business plan with the constraints of the buildings was an incredibly rewarding process. In fact, the historic nature of the asset is driving demand, rather than the specification, proving that we should never overlook the human factor.

What has been your biggest project management challenge, and how did you overcome it?

By far the biggest challenge was the repair of a Victorian bridge carrying a main road in central Nottingham. The road surface had to be lifted to facilitate the work. Utility, bus, retailer and highways bodies all had a vested interest and this meant they needed to be consulted. Rather than write to all the stakeholders, I organised a breakfast meeting, explained what we were trying to achieve – and why – and asked for their help. The project finished early and below budget, despite the rerouting of buses, diversion of utilities, and management of shoppers. A bacon sandwich and a cup of tea can go a long way!

What are your spare time pursuits and how do they contribute to your role at Workman?

I’m a keen hiker and my two daughters have the bug too. We wild camp and can be on the fells for days at a time. I encourage them to think about the trip, what they may need, and how they would react to a problem. It’s always better to equip someone else with the knowledge to succeed than tell them what to do or do it for them. I guess, in this, my trips with the girls are like preparing a project team to deliver a building.

What has been your most significant achievement outside work, and what did it teach you?

My biggest achievement has been maintaining a strong home life while being able to enjoy a demanding career. For me the answer isn’t “work-life balance”, it’s about focus. Cheering on my daughter in a 200m race cannot be done with the gusto required if my phone is on and my mind is elsewhere. Similarly, complex project challenges require 100% attention. This mindset is central to project management; the focus must always be on the objective that takes priority at that time.

What’s your favourite building worldwide, and why?

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. From the outside at ground level it is almost invisible, the entrances hidden at the ends of bustling streets. Inside, it’s semi-darkness, the warren of passageways, lights and exotic smells give the building an ancient, organic feel. I’ve never entered and exited by the same route; perhaps it is alive and the building changes shape at night!