Jeremy Oakes, Country Manager, Australia
Mace People

Jeremy Oakes

Country Manager for Australia

Consultancy, Asia Pacific

After his wedding in Sydney, Jeremy and his wife travelled around Europe, which is where he met Mace. After a few years, Jeremy decided to take his next challenge back to his home country where he set up Mace in Australia. Since then he has grown our presence there, where his operational role now spans across the entire Asia Pacific region.

How has your career progressed since joining Mace?

I joined Mace in London as a senior project manager. With previous experience as a tier one contractor, I had great insight into the contracting side of the industry before working client side in a project management role delivering hospital projects. It was a natural fit and I've never looked back!

I was very fortunate to work on some great commissions with an excellent team and I was promoted to associate director. Most of what I have learned has been on the job but Mace has fantastic learning and professional development opportunities. Since moving back to Australia in 2010 I have completed some courses with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
The variability of the role keeps me interested and is also very challenging. In any one day, alongside running our projects, I can be working on anything from bidding to finance. I also really enjoy the more strategic side, such as positioning the business for new markets or sectors. Breaking into new sectors is particularly exciting.
What is your proudest achievement at Mace?
I’m so proud of starting the Australian business and building it from scratch to become a respected brand in the local market. We’ve done this by having a great team and providing a consistently high quality service to clients so that they keep coming back.
What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Mace is all about people, so strong interpersonal and communications skills are very important. It’s also good to have strong written skills in terms of reporting to the client and communicating with project teams. You should have determination and tenacity to get projects finished and stay on top of all the issues that arise.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?

Management is a professional service so having a degree in fields such as engineering, architecture or construction, while not essential, is a big step towards becoming a client side project manager. I did a master's in engineering ten years ago and that has really helped me develop some management techniques which weren’t really covered in my original civil engineering degree.

There are many routes to becoming a client side project manager, particularly given the size of the construction industry. Early in your career it can be useful to get a range of experiences such as working for contractors, engineering consultants or in client teams to get a feel for what you like and dislike about various roles and what best suits your interests and skills.

What do you see as the big trend for your specialism in the next five years?
The industry will always need good people to lead and manage the complexities of stakeholders and project objectives. However, the adoption of technology in the property sector will inevitably increase and become more mainstream, such as the use of virtual reality goggles in concert with Building Information Modeling (BIM) models. Design teams are already starting to use them to collaborate in the virtual world. Collaborative software is becoming more common and affordable, project managers know more software packages than just Word, Excel and Microsoft Project.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I play lead guitar in a cover band and enjoy hard rock music from the 80’s and 90’s. It’s a good way to unwind after a tough day at the office. If I hadn’t got into construction, I’d definitely be a rock star playing in a major stadium!
Jeremy Oakes, Country Manager, Australia

“Mace is all about people, so strong interpersonal and communications skills are very important.”