Oliver North
Mace People

Oliver North

Director of Cost and Commercial Management

Consultancy, UK & Europe

From the rugby pitch, to leading Mace’s Cost and Commercial consultancy in the UK and Europe, Oliver North has redefined the boundaries of his career ambition to make a big impact; developing capability and best-in-class solutions for clients and helping to shape the future of the industry.

How did you get into what you do?

Growing up in Portsmouth, with a huge passion for the water, my original plan was always to join the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer. I attended the Admiralty Interview Board but very shortly after was presented with the opportunity to play professional rugby union in Australia, an opportunity I couldn’t decline. 

It was whilst playing there I met our club sponsor, who ran a major civil engineering business. Their competitive sporting nature, exciting projects, and ambition to make an impact were just infectious, and I ended up spending some time in commercial management and project delivery with them, which is where I developed a passion for the built environment. It helped that I got the chance to work with a diverse team that was ahead of its time on sustainability.

The more experience I got, the more I found myself becoming curious about the commercial side of the industry, and so I decided to study Quantity Surveying to develop my skills. Following University, I joined a small practice working on high-end residential developments and resorts. The opportunity then arose to join Davis Langdon (who later became part of AECOM), who were seen as the industry leader at the time, and I jumped at the chance. It was there that I learnt a huge amount before an exciting opportunity to join Mace arose and, since then, I haven’t looked back. 

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?

It’s probably how much we prioritise growing together as a business, because this is how we create a truly diverse capability to respond to client needs and disrupt the market. At Mace, we have such a unique opportunity to shape our service offering and work with clients from a vast array of sectors and locations, to solve their challenges now and use our forward thinking approach to anticipate and rise to future challenges early on in a relationship.

As well as getting stuck into new markets and clients, the opportunity to play a part in wider cost and commercial sector development is enjoyable too, and I love the fact that at Mace we are able to work beyond the boundaries of our role in a range of collaborations across the business to take a wider enterprise view to doing the right thing.

It’s a best athlete approach; we’re not restricted by discipline or geography and so we can platform talent, change and develop as well as attract the people with world-class experience and capabilities to deliver on our differential.

How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?

By challenging the business to drive forward our people and, especially, our digital solutions. The way we harness the potential of digital solutions and AI across the group is going to be critical to how we transform the business and bring unique offerings to our clients and colleagues on a day-to-day basis, and I champion our people, our richness of diversity and our diversity of thought. How we think about people, digital solutions, and their interaction, is central to creating best-in-class solutions and delivering distinctive value for our clients.

What has been your proudest achievement at Mace so far?

It’s getting the opportunity to do the role I do now – the faith that the business has placed in me makes me really proud. As part of the team who brought the business to where it is now – with over 1,200 people in Cost and Commercial globally and 650 in the UK and European hub – we’ve seen phenomenal growth and, throughout this, I’ve been fortunate enough to work across iconic projects, new service lines, in construction, in consultancy, internationally and across different markets.

I’m also proud of some of the roles I’ve played in some our regions. We may be a global business, but we also have a strong local focus and, in our Winchester office, we’ve taken our team from a base of four to a complement of 150.

Two projects standout - firstly a Defence programme, where we changed the client’s perspective on the art of the possible, leveraging the strength of our group offer to drive innovative solutions, unlocking unforeseen value and opportunity to the client. Secondly, our involvement with my home town, Portsmouth, where we have worked for 15 years, and where we are now advising on £1bn+ regeneration schemes that will transform the City for generations to come.

Why Mace?

I’d always held an aspiration to work for a truly progressive and brave organisation where people come first. Mace also has an entrepreneurial spirit, and a desire to drive change and move the industry forwards. I’ve been in the business for over a decade and the focus remains the same, and it’s as exciting today as it was when I first joined.

Here, there is a genuine passion for sustainability, diversity, the way we deliver, big-picture thinking, investing in our people and building their careers through learning. At Mace we do all the things we say we’ll do. Not all organisations are like that - it’s a source of pride and motivation.

What skills do you need to be good at your job?

No one size fits all for any role – it’s more about complementing skillsets and personality. There are some technical skills that are essential, but what’s most important are the soft skills and being a good human – having the right people skills to work truly collaboratively to get the best outcomes.


Passion and a desire to want to drive the right outcomes is one thing but agility, open mindedness, and acceptance that opinions will be different are the skills that deliver progress. The technical side can be learned, the rest is a bigger piece of work and so its important to work on yourself.

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

My passion for the ocean would have certainly seen me working in it or on it!

Oliver North

“How we think about people and digital, and their interaction, is central to creating best-in-class solutions and delivering distinctive value for our clients.”