Business Unit Director, Central and South West UK
From inspiring sports venues to world renowned major programmes, Simon has worked on some of the most significant construction projects that have transformed parts of the UK and is now heading up Mace’s consultancy offer across the central and southwest region.
- How did you get into what you do?
I fell into construction really because it happened to be where the opportunity was. A new automotive business was moving to Derbyshire around the time I was reviewing career opportunities and I was fortunate to get a job working on the construction of the new facility for Toyota.
After I realised I’d fallen on my feet I did an HND in building studies and then went on to do a part-time degree in construction management. Over the next 10 years I worked on a huge variety of projects, from the Millennium Dome, to Portcullis House and also BAA around the time when Terminal 5 was just starting.
- How has your career progressed at Mace?
I joined Mace as an associate director after I moved back to the midlands for family reasons. I worked on the regeneration of Eastside before being promoted to Operations Director. I led the 2006 bid for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and then moved onto the bid and subsequent delivery of Birmingham New Street. I can still remember taking the call to find out we’d won it - it was a special moment.
In 2014 I was asked to lead our property division in the midlands and south west and have grown the business from there. It’s actually a really exciting time to be working in Birmingham at the moment, with the possibility of the 2022 Commonwealth Games being held in the city and the impact HS2 will have on greater Birmingham and the midlands generally.
- What has been one of the biggest highlights of your career?
Can I have two? Birmingham New Street jumps out because of the scale of the challenge and the awards that it won. And the velodrome in Derby because of the ingenuity in creating such a successful multi-purpose venue that gave the Council more than it could have imagined, and it’s also next door to a place very close to my heart!
- What’s the secret to success in this industry?
I’m a massive believer in hard work. For me it’s certainly paid dividends in what I’ve achieved at Mace. If you can combine hard work with the support of a sponsor or mentor, someone who will really help guide you and get you noticed, you’re on to a winner.
- What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
Gain as much experience as you can in your first few years. Typically we see a lot of people who have only experienced one dimension of construction. To develop solutions that really make a difference to our clients takes practical experience, wide industry knowledge and a broad perspective.
- What do you enjoy most about working at Mace?
Seeing people around me develop. Mace is great at providing opportunities for people who want to do well and as a manager the part I play in supporting people to realise their ambitions is an important and rewarding one.
- What alternative career might you have ended up in?
It would have been something sports related. I used to play semi-professional football until I tore my cruciate ligament and I’m also a qualified coach. I still manage to get to the gym a few times a week but my love of sports now tends to centre around my kids. My son plays for Leicester City Football Club under 13s and my daughter plays hockey and netball at county level. Perhaps I should have been a cab driver, I’m pretty good at it!
“It’s a really exciting time to be working in Birmingham, with the possibility of the 2022 Commonwealth Games being held in the city and the impact HS2 will have on the midlands. ”