As our Americas business expands, we’re putting some of our most experienced programme directors at the heart of the continent’s infrastructure transformation. With a portfolio of experience including the development of Canada’s largest infrastructure programme and delivery of major rail stations in the UK, there’s hardly a better person to have at the helm than Sam Wadsworth. Now residing in Toronto, she’s putting her excellent leadership skills to good use on Metrolinx’s GO Expansion Programme.
- How did you get into what you do?
I grew up in Bristol in the UK. After university, I did a graduate training scheme with one of the UK’s leading electric suppliers for two years, which gave me a broad overview of different business functions and served as a strong foundation for my career. I then transferred into a project management role with the same company before taking up a position with Network Rail. I spent 10 years at Network Rail as a programme manager, working on various large schemes, including the rewiring of the Great Eastern Main Line.
Over the years, it’s fair to say that I’ve developed a broad range of project and programme management experience in the rail industry. I worked for Virgin trains for two years, setting up a programme management office. I’ve also worked for a contractor, so I understand the entire spectrum of the project lifecycle, which comes in handy in my current role as programme director for GO Expansion in Canada.
- Why Mace?
When you work at Mace there’s real truth to the expression ‘the world is your oyster’. Mace offers fantastic mobility opportunities for our colleagues around the world – and I’m a perfect example! I started working for Mace in 2015 as a project director for London Bridge Station before moving on to deliver Brent Cross Station in London; I then supported the bid process for GO Expansion for a year and a half, and when we won the bid at the start of 2022, I leapt at the chance to come onboard as a programme director and move with my family to Toronto, Canada. There’s an incredible amount of potential for people to join Mace and develop their career in the Americas or in any of our global hubs. All you have to do is seek out the opportunity. It’s there for the taking!
- What do you enjoy the most about your current role at Mace?
There are so many dimensions to my job that I enjoy.
The joint venture that we are in with Comtech and SYSTRA at Metrolinx is fantastic. Yes, we are three parent companies, but we function as one closely-knit team working closely together and in lockstep with the client for the benefit of the programme. I’m proud of the collaborative mindset of our people at Mace, and the way we can put the practical expertise from mega programmes to use in any part of the world. Managing 220 people is not without its challenges but it’s been a hugely rewarding process. At this stage of my career, it’s important for me to nurture talent and help people grow. If we mentor our talent successfully, we improve how they do their jobs, and the benefits are exponential – both to them as individuals and to the business as a whole.
I also take a lot of satisfaction from knowing what GO Expansion will mean for the local communities. Ontario is a vast geographical area – larger than France and Spain combined – and it’s motivating to be involved in a rail programme that will transform the way people live and work in the province.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Supporting the delivery of major programmes can be challenging work – it’s not for the faint of heart! It’s essential to have strong people skills. You must keep an outcome-focused mindset, be organised and tenacious. I also think it helps to have a sense of adventure.
In construction, there’s often a focus on the ‘building phase’ of a project rather than the whole lifecycle. Because I understand the challenges of the contractors as well as the operational side of the trains, I can stay outcome-focused and think about the benefits that a programme offers end-users, both for the communities and for the people who operate and maintain it.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Find something you want to do and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter if you pursue an apprenticeship or a university degree – success comes in many ways. Be ready to challenge things. Choose an employer that aligns with your personal principles and values. And remember, it takes diversity to generate diversity of thought.
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work, what do you think you might be doing?
- I would’ve made an excellent barrister – at least according to my mum! Jokes aside, I’m very happy with the career path that I chose, and I definitely get to make use of my negotiation skills, even though it’s not in a court of law.
“There is an incredible amount of potential for people to join Mace and develop their career in the Americas or in any of our other global hubs. All you have to do is seek out the opportunity. It’s there for the taking!”