Experienced People

Martin Coyd

Head of Health and Safety - Construction

Health and Safety, UK

Martin Coyd, Head of Health and Safety for Construction, attributes his work ethic to his time in the army and is passionate about making every work environment a healthy, safe and happy place to be.

How did you get into what you do?

My first job at 16, was working as a chainboy – the least senior worker on a surveying crew, who holds the end of the measuring tape (which used to be a chain made of links) for Fairclough Tunnelling in Warrington. Then at 18 I joined The Royal Engineers where I spent another 18 years serving all over the world in the most varied, interesting locations. I worked as a machine driver in infrastructure, roads, air fields and in disaster and conflict zones.

I finished my time at The Royal School of Military Engineering in Brompton in 2000 and went to work for a health and safety practice in London for 18 months, embarking on a very enjoyable and steep learning curve. I then joined a large contractor where I stayed for 12 years as a health and safety manager in Private Finance Initiative (PFI), residential, development, international and commercial areas.

In 2012 moved to another contractor as a regional head of health and safety for Europe, Middle East & Africa where I worked for three and a half years. I joined Mace in autumn 2016.

What opportunities have you had in your career?

I’ve had the privilege to work on a wide variety of projects, including iconic construction and civil engineering projects in the UK, Europe and around the world. The army has a fairly significant training programme and has installed a ‘can do’ mentality into me. Every single day is an opportunity to do something new and continue to learn. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with some amazing people who have invariably given me their time, experience, advice and wisdom. They’re my heroes.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
I most enjoy working with people and all organisations are just groups of people – that’s what makes a great company. People who try to be their best every day and all the time.  Second best just won’t do.
What is your goal at Mace?
My immediate goal is to visit all Mace construction projects by Easter 2017, which will give me a picture of our challenges and opportunities across the organisation and allow me to meet the people that make Mace tick - our people and our partners. After that, I aim to work with all of our people and continue to raise an already high bar, striving to be the best.
What skills do you need to be good at your job?

Communication is critical as is listening, coaching, inspiring people and giving people permission to fail. Everyone learns by trying and failing – making mistakes. People have to reflect on mistakes, understand the process and really learn from them.  

What do you see as the big trend for your specialism in the next five years?

Mental health and wellbeing. Feeling respected and the sense of belonging is increasingly important to people. Those who feel that somebody cares about them and they have a role to play will work very hard to create a great working environment and our safety performance will improve, as will employees’ sense of wellbeing.

What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?

I want to be part of a great team of people, leading the way in the industry, sharing what we have learned and what we do, and creating the best possible places to work. This is the greatest industry with the very best people. We can make a difference!

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I’m a team manager and bus driver for a wheelchair rugby league team called the Medway Dragons. The Dragons have 10 teams at the club from Under-7s to over 35s and also have handball and netball divisions. The aim is to provide an opportunity for absolutely everyone to play, to join in – to belong. We play all over the UK every weekend and train on a Wednesday night. My 19 and 21 year old sons also play for the team as we don’t exclude anyone who wants to play. I coach teams and still play Masters as well – I just love the game.

I was also awarded the OBE in the 2013 New Year's Honours list for establishing rugby league as an official sport within the British Armed Forces and for playing a leading role in running games and in developing wheelchair rugby.

If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?

It would be something to do with sports – probably coaching. The attraction for me is encouraging people to push themselves, seeing young people achieve things they never thought they could. The body achieves what the mind believes.

“Those who feel that somebody cares about them and they have a role to play will work very hard to create a great working environment and our safety performance will improve, as will employees’ sense of wellbeing. ”