Managing Director for East Africa
Simon Herd had been with YMR cost consultancy in Kenya since 1992. As a partner with the business, Simon led the merger with Mace in response to market demands for greater project management requirements and to create greater project and career opportunities for the team.
- How did you get into what you do?
I was born in Zambia and brought up in Kenya. My mother is Australian so I was sent off to university in Perth in Western Australia not really knowing what I wanted to do. While I was there I met an amazing professor who convinced me that construction consultancy was my calling. I then went looking for a part-time job to help pay for my studies and called at the offices of a firm that had originated in Uganda. The founder, on hearing where I was from, offered me a job straight away. When I returned to Africa several years later, I met the senior partner of YMR in Kampala (the capital of Uganda) and he offered me a job; he has been my mentor and friend ever since.
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love working with people, I meet all sorts of different people in a normal day, as so much of our business is about relationships – meeting clients and helping them achieve their project ambitions is probably my favourite part of the job. I also enjoy the satisfaction that comes with empowering other staff to do things they probably never imagined they could do.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into quantity surveying?
If I could only give one piece of advice it would be to work hard. Try to get out and start working in the industry as soon as you can and don’t be scared to go to new places to work. Don’t be just any ordinary person, show that you are prepared to go the extra mile and you will be appreciated!
- What do you see as the big trend in East Africa in the next five years?
The opportunities and returns in East Africa are great. I think we are going to see more and more international players become involved in our industry. I’m positive that this will bring different ways of working that are the norm in more developed parts of the world, but are completely new to this region. Design and programme management, project controls, sustainability, health and safety, and collaboration between all players in the industry will become more and more important. East Africa is currently gaining more international clients and property funds which is bringing in international consultants, as well as receiving investment from the US, South Africa and Europe, which all looks even more hopeful for the future!
- What do you think are the benefits for clients of Mace and YMR coming together?
In the 25 years that I have worked for YMR, the company has expanded hugely. Merging with Mace is the next chapter in the company’s evolution and I can only see this making relationships with our clients even stronger. Mace has superb international experience across many sectors and services and YMR have excellent local knowledge. Together, the two will deliver an unparalleled level of service to clients.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
Light aviation and conservation - luckily for me the two go together in Africa. I come from an aviation family and we all have a love of wildlife. I also have a private pilot’s licence and a small aircraft. To get to the national parks and conservation areas, an aircraft is almost a necessity. Together with the local Aero Club, and working with various conservation organisations, I am able to carry out my passions.
“The opportunities and returns in East Africa are great. I think we are going to see more and more international players become involved in our industry.”