Experienced People

John Kennedy

Operations Director

Construction, UK

John Kennedy joined Mace in 1999 to work on some of our most iconic projects including More London, Heathrow and The Shard. He left Mace in 2012 but returned two years later to lead the team at 21 Moorfields, a development for Land Securities in the heart of the City of London.

How did you get into what you do?

My dad was in construction and I started out working for him as a labourer in the late 1980s, labouring and driving a dumper during the school holidays. I took a greater interest in the industry after working alongside the engineers on site, and that led me to qualify as a civil engineer, and then work for the construction company who sponsored me during university.

I joined Mace in 1999, working initially as a package manager and gradually working my way up to becoming a project director. In 2012, when The Shard was completed, I left Mace to work for a residential property developer but returned in 2014 to lead on the 21 Moorfields project for Land Securities.

What do you enjoy most about your role at Mace?
I like being able to spend time on site as well as in the office, and I get a great sense of achievement from seeing safe progress on site. I really enjoy working with our supply chain - some of them are great characters! The supply chain and my team have a good, collaborative culture on site that helps us all to enjoy what we do and be productive.
What’s your proudest achievement at Mace?
It was achieving practical completion at 23 Savile Row, a high end office development in Mayfair. I was in my mid-30s and it was my first job as project director. It gave me the confidence to take on larger scale projects. To be the person responsible for the team on such a high profile job, and for it to be delivered successfully and on time was a proud moment.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Try and gain experience on site as well as the necessary qualifications. Spending time being hands on in construction has been one of the most beneficial learning experiences I've had, and I have ended up in a very good position with a well-rounded background as a result. 

I'd also advise people to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask as many as you can.

What do you see as the big trend for your specialism in the next five years?
I see big trends in using machinery for traditional labour work. I also see more off site prefabrication, less traditional onsite construction and, a little further in the future, the use of drones for everything from deliveries and works on site, to gaining safe access at height. I think there will be greater research, development and investment in modularisation, robotics, 3D printing and drones.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
Family and sport. I support Arsenal, I'm a youth rugby coach, I play golf (well, I try to - my handicap is 18), I was brought up with Gaelic football and hurling, and I enjoy getting my kids into sport - Emily plays tennis and Ben plays rugby and loves swimming.

“I like being able to spend time on site as well as in the office, and I get a great sense of achievement from seeing safe progress on site.”