Senior Development Manager
From master planning, to addressing the little details that make a big difference, Megan Rolls relishes the challenges of delivering a new project. With a passion for property, a strong people focus and an international track record, Megan is committed to enhancing people’s experience of the built environment – and turning ordinary spaces into amazing places.
- How did you get into what you do?
I grew up in Sydney, Australia where over the last twenty years, there’s been a rapid evolution in the city skyline, with sustainability as the key driver for change. Seeing people talking about and using these new buildings and spaces positively drove my passion for property from a fairly young age. I went on to study Property Economics at university and then went into site management, progressing onto design management with Lendlease.
Throughout these roles, I got to put my stamp on some of the new, sustainable buildings. It was a bit of an epiphany, I found it so inspiring to be making places for future generations to enjoy. Then, in 2020 an opportunity came up in the UK to become a project manager, gaining experience developing for the healthcare sector at Guy’s Hospital Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence. This role with Mace offered me the potential to develop more experience whilst supporting an important project – so I couldn’t turn it down!
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
Across the Mace engines, especially in Consult, Construct and in Develop (where I’ve worked the most), my colleagues have been brilliant and have supported and encouraged me all the way, helping me to learn and grow my skillset.
I’m proud to call my colleagues friends and those sorts of relationships can bring a hugely positive dynamic when it comes to collaborating on projects or sharing experience to reach the best project outcomes.
In terms of my project portfolio, I’ve been able to work across a variety of projects simultaneously, dividing my time between different workstreams, from viability modelling, to learning about the development of new towns in the post-war years.
Whilst working on plans for the regeneration of Stevenage Town Centre, I read through the original masterplan for the new town and was fascinated by its vision for active travel and how forward-looking it was in terms of how people were the focus of its design and infrastructure.
So yes, it’s the people, projects and places that I enjoy most about my role at Mace!
- How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?
I look to do this every day – it’s not just the big vision project thinking when planning or designing, but also the marginal gains where you can make a big difference through small changes. Thinking innovatively and approaching clients with the mindset that you don’t have to do things in the way they’ve always been done before really does work.
- What's been your proudest achievement at Mace so far?
I’m probably most proud of my experience as a line manager. Seeing people grow and rise to more senior positions is really rewarding – especially when people you’ve coached and managed succeed and you know you’ve helped play a part in them realising their ambitions.
From a project perspective, working on the health project at Guy’s Hospital during the pandemic and seeing the key workers and the entire team pulling together to make it happen was one of the proudest moments of my career. Seeing that through in the most challenging of circumstances was amazing – everyone had each other’s backs, worked towards a shared vision and showed almost limitless commitment.
- Why Mace?
I’m a people person and people make a company what it is. At Mace all the initial impressions I had become lasting ones - the people I met were a good fit for me and they care, you’re not just a number. There’s also a real desire from the business to create outstanding places and to do it in the right way.
- What motivates you every day?
The people I work with, our colleagues and partners, and the impact of our projects on the community. Doing something new every day is a huge motivation for me too; no day is the same in this industry – you never stop learning and the work constantly takes you down new avenues of exploration. One day you could be working on the strict requirements for a donkey enclosure, and the next a multimillion-dollar masterplan scheme. Both are equally as fun and exciting!
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Problem solving, because no matter what it is you do, you need to be able to work towards the best possible solution and outcome with your team. Collaborative skills are vital, it’s so important to work well with others and take in the full breadth of inputs to make a project a success. From a technical position, a holistic understanding of design and construction processes, alongside grasping the concept of investment appraisals, ensure a project’s success is planned in proactively.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Be open to the opportunities that come your way. Even if they’re not exactly what you’d originally intended to do, you’ll open up and diversify your skill set. I have skills now that are so valuable that I wouldn’t have gained if I’d been closed to new opportunities or if I hadn’t taken an open approach from the outset. Being flexible, adaptable, and versatile over time can mean you learn more and you bring more to what you do in the long run – so don’t tie yourself to too linear a career path.
- How do you see the next stage of your career development?
As well as transforming places in the UK, I’m also excited about our range our global projects and it’s great to know that I’ll be supported in growing and taking myself into a completely different, overseas environment when the right opportunity presents itself. Mace are very good at supporting women in the industry and providing opportunities to excel. Our Women at Mace staff network is an amazing example of this, supporting women across the organisation and encouraging allyship amongst colleagues. Mace is not a place where you have to fight every day to earn your place at the table because of your gender. Having strong female role models at Mace - people like Kirsten White, our Group Finance Director, means you can work at Mace knowing that you can progress.
My experience of starting at Mace Develop in January working on domestic projects in the U.K., and then being given opportunities to work on global projects by the end of the year, says to me that you can work at Mace knowing that anything’s possible if you work hard and make the most of the opportunities that come your way. There’s no glass ceiling.
“You can work at Mace knowing that anything’s possible if you work hard and make the most of the opportunities that come your way - there’s no glass ceiling.”