Having spent his career travelling the world, racking up tons of experience, accolades and air miles, Mark Taylor finally landed at Mace in 2012 to head up our business in the Middle East. Mark leads an extraordinary team working on some of the most innovative and exciting projects we've ever seen.
- How did you get in to what you do?
I studied quantity surveying at university with a focus on mechanical and electrical services. After graduating I worked in both London and Bristol for the Ministry of Defence, hospitals, GSK - where I spent a lot of time circumnavigating the M25 - and then Intel. My work at Intel led me to south east Asia initially, where I travelled to the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore and then also to Costa Rica, Miami and Ireland. After the recession in Asia in the late 1990s, I relocated to Baku, Azerbaijan, working principally for BP. I travelled a lot in this position too, with a lot of time spent in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia.
Family meant a move to Dubai and I landed in June 2006, principally to run a consultancy office for a UK company. It was a multi-faceted role and I worked there through the boom then through the recession. In 2012, I got the phone call from Mace, and here I am now as the regional director covering all operations in the Middle East and North Africa.
- What do you enjoy most about working at Mace?
- Running the business is enough in itself. In the past 12 months, I've visited every client, every project and every employee. From Cairo to Doha there are very different projects, clients, environments and expectations. I'm in a very fortunate position to be able to go out and see what's happening on the ground, it helps me to sell our projects because I know what's really going on. The projects that we work on, well, it's an incredible list.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to do what you do?
If someone is looking for a career in the Middle East I'd say first and foremost to do your research, it's not right for everyone. Remain focused on your goals and the reasons for moving to the Middle East. Remember that when you live overseas, and especially in the Middle East, you need a visa and for the majority of foreign workers that means an employer first. Don't put all your eggs in one basket - markets change, projects start and stop and opportunities can dry up, so you have to remain flexible.
When it comes to construction, I would say that there are a lot of paths to success. Sure, some of the top guys at Mace have been there from the start, and there are rising stars who've joined the Mace Graduate Development Programme and gone on to achieve great things within the company, but I've been with Mace for four years now and in that time have really solidified myself within the organisation, in terms of the value I can bring for the position I now hold. Take the opportunities and recognise that there are a lot of ways to get your foot through the door.
- What trends do you see emerging over the next five years?
- Further expansion of the hotel and leisure industry, alongside new entertainment destinations such as Dubai Theme Parks and the Downtown Opera District, will continue to diversify the Middle Eastern economy. The UAE in particular is seen as an entertainment destination - with multiple hotel choices and themed entertainment zones - but we need to diversify further. There are all sorts in the pipeline, and there's an emphasis on showing that there's a lot more to do in the Middle East than going from the beach to the shopping malls to the restaurants. There are major developments everywhere - from ski domes in Egypt to FIFA in Qatar, and Expo 2020 in the UAE.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
- I used to play polo, which was the most exhilarating and intense sport I've ever played, and I have never found anything that competes with it. I still ride horses and provide commentary to matches and tournaments, but after a few broken bones I've retired from the sport. Instead of polo, I play golf, ride my bike and I like to get creative in the kitchen - a different kind of intense, at least that's what my wife and children tell me!
“From Cairo to Doha there are very different projects, clients, environments and expectations. The projects that we work on, well, it’s an incredible list.”