General Director, Country Director for Vietnam
Consultancy, Asia Pacific
Mace’s general director John Campbell has been transforming the city skylines of Vietnam since 2011. Starting out as an assistant project manager in 2003, he’s been on a steady upward trajectory from running his first project to successfully leading the business in Vietnam.
- How did you get into what you do?
- I qualified as an electrician in 1999 and knew very early on that my interest was in managing big projects. After achieving a Higher National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, I worked as a mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) manager for Bovis Lend Lease. My dad has been a source of inspiration for me throughout my career. He also started out as an electrician and when he moved to Mace, I decided to follow in his footsteps. I joined as an assistant project manager in 2003 and worked in Edinburgh and Dublin before relocating to Vietnam in 2011.
- What do you enjoy most about your role at Mace?
- No two days are the same, which keeps life interesting. It doesn’t matter how much you try to plan your day, it never pans out exactly how you anticipated. Since taking on the business development role in Vietnam, I’ve really enjoyed securing work, building relationships and developing our team. It’s a great feeling to be able to deliver high-quality projects and draw on Mace’s global best practice to set the standard for construction in a country where there’s a need for upskilling of labour. The projects we have done in Vietnam are shaping the skyline, and thanks to the Government’s rapid response to the coronavirus outbreak we were able to keep projects moving during the pandemic.
- What’s your proudest achievement at Mace?
- When I arrived in Vietnam I had never led a project on my own, so I was quite nervous about the whole thing. I was working on a project for a well-known telecoms company and we completed a day early, US$3m under budget, and had over 2.7m man hours without a reportable incident. Because of the achievement we won the Global Excellence Award at the Mace Star Awards [internal Mace awards that recognise individuals and teams who have made an outstanding contribution to the company], which I proudly collected on our team's behalf. Since then I think the entire experience of taking over and running the business has been a proud achievement. Our offices are in Deutsches Haus, which was also one of our first projects. The tower has since set the standard for grade A+ office buildings in Vietnam.
- How is the construction landscape changing in Vietnam?
Vietnam is one of the most dynamic and emerging markets in the Asia Pacific region. Construction growth has been instrumental for delivering economic benefits to the country and has helped create some of the region's most iconic structures. Since moving here, I’ve witnessed this development first-hand. Cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are now becoming huge power houses in terms of economic development. This economic boom is set to continue in years to come and we are looking forward to being part of the progress.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
You don’t have to go down the university route. Coming up through a trade background also makes a strong, competent manager. Throughout my career, my background in mechanical engineering and electrical systems has helped me understand how to manage contractors. When you know how to do the work yourself, you can sense check the work of others.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
- I was a good swimmer when I was younger, and I love that my kids have the same passion for the sport as I did. I enjoy supporting them with swimming to be the best they can be. I also love golf and I’m the captain of my local pool team.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to deliver high-quality projects and draw on Mace’s global best practice to set the standard for construction in Vietnam”