Hollie Patel Mace
Mace People

Hollie Patel

Senior Risk Manager

Consultancy, KSA

Through curiosity and determination, Hollie Patel’s career at Mace has seen her catapult from a UK based administrative assistant to a Risk Manager in our growing team in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Making risk interesting and accessible to clients and project teams is what drives her and Hollie’s passion for the sector shines through in her work on some of our most exciting projects.

How did you get into what you do?

I began my career working as a team administrator at Hinkley Point C in the south-west of the UK. One day, the Risk Lead asked me to attend a meeting to take notes and after attending a few of these, I realised that I wanted to delve deeper into the subject, understand why it’s important and build the skills required to manage risk successfully.

Through my own research and by asking questions, I gained an understanding of how risk managers could add value and are able to oversee the entirety of a project. I did my Project Management Qualification through the Association of Project Management (APM) and, eight years down the line, I’ve managed risk on some of our biggest projects in the UK and here in Saudi Arabia.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?

My role is split between risk and commission management. Within the risk part of my role, I really enjoy being able to oversee events that could impact our client achieving their project objectives, and I’ve found that this aligns with my natural tendency to be an organiser. I also enjoy learning about the technicalities of the projects I’ve worked on, and how everything fits together.

On the commission management side, it’s useful to have an understanding of how our clients’ projects function. I work with a large real estate developer in Saudi Arabia with a portfolio of 50 million Saudi Arabian Riyal, so it’s been fascinating to manage the financial forecasting, and learn about the governance behind these processes.

How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?

Having left school with a few GCSEs and going straight into the workplace, I was apprehensive about whether I could really exceed in a corporate environment or whether I would be overlooked for certain positions due to taking an unconventional route into the workplace.

One thing I’d really like to do with my career is encourage people who didn’t come from an academic background and show them that what they want to achieve is within reach. I want young people who didn’t go to university, career changers, parents and carers coming back from extended periods of leave, to understand that the corporate world isn’t closed off to them. At 21 I was working in a call centre, and now I’m a leader within a consultancy in Saudi Arabia. I hope that I can encourage other people that it’s possible to map out your own path and take charge of your career.

What has been your proudest achievement at Mace so far?

A few years ago, I won an Ambition Maker award which is an internal recognition scheme here at Mace. It was because of some work I was doing with the nuclear naval team as they went through a transitionary period. I was so proud to be recognised for something I was passionate about.

My nomination led to a meeting with some of our leadership team, and at that meeting I shared that I’d be really interested in relocating to Saudi Arabia because of some significant project wins in the region. That kickstarted my journey, and now here I am!

Why Mace?

Having worked client-side I was familiar with Mace, and I noticed that there was something different about the company. I was really impressed with the one-team, purpose-driven approach that is truly embodied within the business. The values I’d seen during that time, and the reputation for high quality project delivery, really stood out to me.

What motivates you everyday?

I’m very passionate about Risk as a profession and I want to bring the subject to life and inspire others to be equally excited by it as I am. Injecting fun into the topic of risk is really important to me as it can sometimes be seen as ‘dry’ by people outside of it. I’m hoping to change that as we grow together by educating teams that prioritising risk allows projects to be delivered more efficiently. From a personal side, I’m also really motivated by creating a great life for my family, and further growing my career.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?

My path included undertaking the Project Management Qualification through the APM as I wanted to understand how risk interplays with other elements of bringing a project or programme to fruition. I would recommend this approach to anyone starting out, as a broader approach will allow you to gain more knowledge than starting on a risk-specific qualification.

What are you passionate about outside of work?

I love to travel, and one of the things that really excited me about moving to Riyadh was the fact that 40% of the world is accessible within a six-hour flight. Since relocating here, I’m trying to spend as much time travelling as possible. But additionally, it’s sunny 360 days of the year here, so in my downtime it’s been great to explore nearby UNESCO sites, relax by the pool, go trekking in the desert… the list goes on.

Hollie Patel Mace

“One thing I’d really like to do with my career is encourage people who didn’t come from an academic background and show them that what they want to achieve is within reach.”