Since leaving university Michelle has pioneered a career in the regeneration sector, working on high-profile projects including a masterplan of 1,100 new homes, and the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Having joined Mace in 2006, Michelle oversees Mace’s work in the public sector in north-west England, while resisting the urge to plan parties and dance on stage.
- How has your career led you to Mace?
When I started my A-levels, I wanted to become a female pioneer in the engineering world. I started a degree in civil engineering, but soon realised that the maths was too challenging. I wanted to find something creative that relied on my negotiation skills. It led to me doing a degree in Town Planning and my first job; working as a regeneration assistant at Tony Blair’s constituency in the north-east.
After securing my dream job at Manchester City Council, I spent nine years working with the local community and politicians on projects, including a masterplan of 1,100 new homes and two new schools, and the 2002 Commonwealth Games. It was while working on the latter that I was introduced to Mace and not long after I was offered a job.
- How has your career progressed at Mace?
I joined as a senior project manager in 2006. I wasn’t sure how the jump from the council to Mace would go, but I was in my comfort zone immediately. I liked using my experience in Manchester to add value to other programmes, and was delighted when I was promoted to associate director in 2008; taking on responsibility for the region’s regeneration projects.
My life changed in 2009 when I met my husband. After getting married and then falling pregnant on my honeymoon, I returned to the senior management team in 2011 to take a wider view of the business, and carve my own career path. After focusing on my leadership skills and support from my line manager, I became an operations director in 2013, overseeing responsibility for our work in the public sector in the north west of England.
- What do you hope to be doing in the next 5–10 years?
I would like to think that we will be in a strong position to embrace the Northern Powerhouse and devolution agendas, and build on our track record of delivery in the region.
Working strategically with the lead public sector organisations and bringing the added value of Mace’s international experience is very exciting. I would relish the opportunity to continue in a leadership role throughout these exciting times.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
- Dancing! I always danced as a kid and have qualifications for ballet teaching. Being a member of my local dramatics society for 16 years allows me to follow my passion for performance, I’ve been lucky to play a few leading roles – my favourite as Anita in West Side Story. Up on stage, singing and dancing to a 17-piece live orchestra playing Leonard Bernstein’s ‘amazing score’ was a true honour, and experience I will never forget.
- What might you have been doing if you hadn’t got into this line of work?
Party planning! I’m pretty much doing this part-time and it can be anything; kids’ parties, wedding anniversaries, dinner parties, grown-up birthdays, reunions or weekends away with the girls. I love all the pre-planning too, making sure everything goes smoothly and with a drink or two - not the kids’ parties of course!
“Working strategically with the lead public sector organisations and bringing the added value of Mace’s international experience is very exciting.”