Senior Project Manager
Consultancy, Asia Pacific
Melanie Edwards joined Mace in August 2015 to deliver high-quality, high-profile retail environments for clients such as Tiffany & Co. In a short space of time, Melanie has grown Mace's retail team is Australia from one to four people and was nominated to become a member of Mace's Women of the Future programme in 2016.
- How did you get into what you do?
I have a varied background. I started out in the hospitality industry running bars and restaurants in Australia, but I'd always had an eye for design and it led me to redesign the bar space at the restaurant I worked in. It went down pretty well and was rolled out to the restaurant's other branches nationwide!
After years in hospitality I made the move to retail. I worked in operations, store planning and project management positions before eventually working as a senior project manager for Prada in Sydney.
Because of my extensive background in retail, I was approached in mid-2015 to join the team at Mace and it was a no brainer. I'm currently working on launching the retail programme for Tiffany & Co. in Australia and New Zealand, as well as working with several other retail brands.
- What do you enjoy most about your role at Mace?
- Working for a company like Mace means working with a whole lot of people who are involved in different things. I get to hear a lot of interesting stories from the teams working in different sectors. I love being on site and being in the construction phase of projects, working with the team to resolve design and construction issues as they arrive. I thrive in environments that are dynamic and the environment at Mace is definitely like that.
- What has been your proudest moment so far at Mace?
I'm proud of the successful opening of the two stores we've completed for Tiffany & Co. in Australia so far. We've had really positive feedback from Tiffany about the construction process and handover. They have said the store openings were the best they've ever had. I was thrown in the at deep end when I arrived at Mace, starting in late August with deadlines to get the projects on track only a couple of months away, and we came in under budget and exceeded expectations.
I'm also very proud to have gained the respect of my peers, and to have been nominated to join Mace's Women of the Future programme.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Be passionate about what you're doing - you'll be spending a lot of long hours doing it after all. Construction is a fast-paced and exciting industry, especially retail. You can be very proud of the end project in retail, it's so visual.
It's important to remember that what you're working on is your client's livelihood. You need to care, you need to 'be the client', you need to think like they think.
- What do you see as the big trend for your specialism in the next five years?
- Certainly, in the luxury retail industry, there is a push for standardisation. Clients are looking to save costs and remain profitable. Standardised fit outs are favoured in order to utilise maximum buying power across multiple stores, fit out periods are shorter, costs and budgets are going down and expectations are going up. Standard manufacturing, consistency across all works, prefabrication - these are key for our retail clients.
- What would you be doing if you hadn't gotten into this line of work?
- I'd like to think I'd still be doing something similar to what I'm doing now - maybe architecture or interior design. I like to be on site, solving problems, getting dirty, creating something. I've also dabbled in acting, and looked quite seriously at pursuing that for a while - perhaps I could have become an actor!
“It’s important to remember that what you’re working on is your client’s livelihood. You need to care, you need to ‘be the client’, you need to think like they think.”