Tony Pennington Expo headshot
Mace People

Tony Pennington

Operations Director

Consultancy, MENA

Project Director at Expo 2020 Dubai, Tony Pennington, has a wealth of experience in working in the Middle East for the past two decades. With a background in quantity surveying, Tony has worked on some of Mace’s most iconic projects.

How did you get into what you do?
I was offered a place on the Navy officer training programme when I was 17, but as I couldn’t start until I was 18 I had some time to kill. I applied for a job as a quantity surveyor by mistake - I thought it involved technical drawing and I even admitted this in my interview but I still got the job. I’d only planned to stay for a year and then join the Navy, but I kept deferring my place as I was having fun. I've been in the industry for 31 years now. I’m probably too old for the Navy at this point.
How has your career progressed since joining Mace?

I joined Mace in 2003 to get involved in the new Cost Management business that was being set up in the Middle East on the back of our involvement on the Jumeirah Beach Residence project. Since then I’ve worked on some iconic and career defining projects, such as JBR, Dubai World Trade Centre and Expo 2020 Dubai. 

Expo 2020 Dubai has been a highlight for me – working with the Dubai Government, winning the bid in 2012, then being appointed as Official Programme Delivery Management Provider– it’s been a great journey. And now Mace is also delivering the UK Pavilion. It’s an honour to be involved in such a unique, world class project. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
I’d encourage everyone to take any chance they get to take their career overseas; there are often opportunities to work at a more senior level than you would be able to if you stayed in the UK. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just go for it.
What have been some of your standout highlights from working on Expo 2020 Dubai?

There have been many. From being part of the bid winning team in 2012, to standing on the empty desert site in 2014 when we first started on the programme, knowing that we were going to be part of something incredible, to witnessing the continuous changes on site as the construction progresses (unfortunately, more often than not, from my office window) and remembering where we started.

What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?
I’ve been working the Middle East for most of my career, but Mace has so many opportunities worldwide that I’d be lying if I said I wouldn't like to experience new cultures at some point.
What are you passionate about outside of work?

I love getting outside and making the most of the sports opportunities in Dubai with my family. Most weekends I go motocross riding in the desert with my son. I also like to play guitar, which I do at home frequently, much to the annoyance of my family.

Tony Pennington Expo headshot

“I’d encourage everyone to take their career overseas if they get the chance. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and just go for it. ”