Associate Director of Rail
From working on the tools as a teenager to leading some of Mace’s highest-profile rail programmes, Michael Jones has done it all. Never one to rest on his laurels, Michael is now blending his project work with a business development role to bring his unique insight to Mace’s growing rail offering.
- How did you get into what you do?
- When I left school at 15, my uncle worked in the rail sector and introduced me to his contacts. I started picking up short-term roles in the industry and by 16 I was working as a fully-fledged staffing contractor across South Wales.
- What was it like starting work at a young age?
- It was great. I loved learning on the job. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that, at 17, I moved to London to find more opportunities, immediately benefitting by getting a job in an experienced sleeper changing team. I was thrown in at the deep end and learned a huge amount. Seven years in London – working long hours with few days off – meant that I returned to Wales with an almost unrivalled level of experience for my age.
- What did you do when you returned home?
- Back in Wales, I took on more of a civil engineering role. My London experience helped me into a more senior leadership position and I took on responsibility for site teams. After establishing myself in that role, I moved into planning and delivery management which meant managing bigger teams. It was a crucial phase of my career that set me up perfectly to join Mace.
- How has your career progressed since joining Mace?
I joined Mace in 2015 and was seconded to Network Rail’s Great Western Electrification Programme. I started as a scheme project manager, responsible for safely managing demolitions. After three months I was promoted to manage additional packages of work, including station improvements.
I moved onto the Birmingham New Street refurbishment in 2017, becoming the project director for the close-out of the station works. I’ve also recently been managing a team on the Brent Cross station regeneration. Both have allowed me to take my career to the next level by showing me different perspectives and exposing me to new challenges.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
Without a doubt, it’s the freedom to grow. In a progressive organisation like Mace, there’s every chance that you might be put in at the deep end, but you always get the support you need to be successful.
The opportunities to grow are incredibly varied. I’ve really enjoyed getting more involved with the business development side of things, while developing the skills I already have, such as people management. My current team of 35 is the biggest I’ve ever been responsible for and I’m learning from them every day.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Go for it! The rail industry is booming, with projects across the UK and abroad providing opportunities for professionals from all manner of disciplines. If you’re confident in your abilities and willing to step up to the challenge, you’ll have no problem building a successful career.
For those starting out in their career, I’d encourage them to consider their options. There can be a focus on taking an academic route, but I can certainly vouch for a more vocational approach. It served me well and my son, who started working at 16, is now following in my footsteps.
- What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?
I’m looking forward to helping Mace grow its rail offering. Since I’ve started getting more involved with the business development side of things, I’ve found it’s something I really enjoy and want to do more.
On the day-to-day delivery side, I’m excited to see my team grow and rise through the ranks. Mace has given them the tools they need to develop and I know they all have the right attitude to continue their progression.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I once owned a racehorse through a syndicate and we had high hopes of success based on positive insider information.
Our hopes were quickly dashed though, as it managed to come in the bottom three in all seven of the races it ran for us. It’s fair to say I’ve stayed on the other side of the paddock fence since.
- What do you enjoy outside of work?
My family is my number one priority in life, although Liverpool Football Club it comes a close second.
Otherwise, I love being in my kayak. I regularly head out on the waters off the Gower and take the time to enjoy the peace and quiet. For me, there’s no better way to relax.
“The rail industry is booming, with projects across the UK and abroad.”