Heading up Mace’s Kenya office was an opportunity not to be missed for James. With over 27 years of experience in the industry, James is now focusing his extensive range of skills on bringing solutions to clients across East Africa.
- How did you get in to what you do?
After I left school I travelled extensively and worked as a labourer in various places to fund my travels. My time working on small building sites helped me to develop an interest in construction and I eventually returned to study quantity surveying at university. Since then, my career has diversified quite extensively, but I always considered the course to be a fantastic foundation. Working on the London Olympic programme was a career changer, the experience was invaluable for me. I have had a lot of variety over my working life, including working with a property developer in setting up a design and build business, importing timber frame systems from Austria and much in between. The different things I’ve done have made me realise that I can be very flexible, open minded and adaptable. It’s all about the ability to readily accept change and constantly improve.
I worked in London for the best part of 27 years and you get to the point where the children are older and you can free yourself up a bit. I’ve always been interested in working abroad, and working on projects with cross-cultural exchange. You don’t get too many opportunities to do something like head up Mace’s Kenya office, it would have been impossible for me to turn it down.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Firstly, make sure you have passion for your subject matter. Secondly, be prepared to work very hard. And thirdly, make sure that passion extends to working with people. I’ve always enjoyed working in teams, and I’d say that you won’t get far without a strong team around you.
- What do you see as the next big trend in East Africa in the next five years?
I see an opportunity in East Africa to develop diverse project and commercial management services. Finding management solutions that work in East Africa, and combining local and global knowledge, will be the key to success here.
- What do you think are the benefits to clients of Mace and YMR coming together?
There is a natural fit of ambition and values between the two businesses. YMR has a strong cost consultancy service, and extensive knowledge of the local market. Couple that with Mace’s international expertise of project and programme management and it’s a win-win scenario.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
I love to travel! I’m interested in performing arts, historical cities and sites and experiencing other cultures. I also enjoy cycling and golf. I’m a member of a number of charitable organisations, including one of the London livery companies – it keeps me pretty busy.
“Finding management solutions that work in East Africa, and combining local and global knowledge, will be the key to success here.”