From dogs to togs: client side in three sectors
Guide dogs, pubs, high street fashion… In the latest instalment in our ‘Meet the Members’ series we find out what it’s like to sit on the client side across three diverse sectors. Denise Chevin reports.
Paul Glover ICIOB, head of property services, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
A quick scan of the construction diary on its website reveals that delivering the National Breeding Centre for Guide Dogs is not your average construction project. Excerpts include: “First deliveries of bio-mass fuel [for the eco-friendly bio-mass boiler] arriving…” “Putting the hydro-therapy unit into its new home this week…” “Putting some of the cryogenic storage units, [which house Guide Dogs’ semen stocks], into place…”
The man tasked with pulling it off is Paul Glover, head of property services at the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, now known simply as Guide Dogs. The 63-year-old joined the organisation in 2008 to lead the development of two major capital projects: the new £20m National Breeding Centre, based in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, completed last summer; and before that a new £7m training centre in Atherton, Bolton.
Glover is also advising on the charity’s change programme, including the best way of using residual land and property, which in some cases involves getting residential planning permission. He also advises on the future strategy of the charity’s 33 mobility centres — facilities where the charity meets with its community of guide dog users. But the breeding centre, designed by Broadway Malyan, was the stand-out project. “It was quite a challenge mediating between trustees, executives, the design team, dog experts, and contractors and pulling it all together. But when I go there now I get such a sense of achievement.”
The new breeding centre was commissioned to allow the charity to increase the number of puppies it breeds each year from 1,100 to 1,500 a year.
“It’s a bit like a manufacturer, trying to increase our output so we can achieve better services and offer more help to more people,” Glover explains. For example, a new scheme is being piloted which involves offering “buddy dogs” to partially-sighted children and young people.
Paul Glover (left) joined the charity sector to give something back
The charity is retraining dogs that didn’t quite make the full guide dog programme and placing them with families and schools so that young people get the opportunity to feed, groom and walk their buddy dog — and ultimately gain the skills they might need for future guide dog ownership.
The centre, which took 59 weeks to build, is designed to complement its rural location and features a series of one and two-storey pavilions, fitted out with kennels, office space and facilities for dog breeding. Many sustainable features have been incorporated to lower the facility’s carbon footprint, including a biomass boiler and rainwater harvesting facilities.
Glover says: “It is one of the most advanced breeding centres of its type in the world complete with air conditioned lobbies, underfloor heating, stainless steel kennels that the dogs can’t chew, and specially designed dog showers.” The kennels have glass frontages to allow them to be viewed by the coach-loads of visitors and supporters who tour the site.
Morgan Sindall, contractor for the breeding centre, was selected after a rigorous process which followed procurement rules drawn up by the Office of Government Commerce (now part of the Cabinet Office). A total of 28 companies showed initial interest, eight tendered and four were eventually interviewed. The selection was made on a number of factors, including price and buildability. “It’s surprising how a number of the bidders just hadn’t read what we required,” says Glover. The charity’s finance director also went through the bidders’ business accounts, and grilled their staff where necessary to ensure suppliers they chose weren’t about to go bust.
A qualified surveyor, Glover switched to the charity sector because he says he wanted to do something worthwhile and give something back to society after a property career across a broad spectrum of organisations, including Nat West, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Met Office.
Initially he operated on the legal and commercial side, but switched to looking after capital schemes and projects after completing an MBA in Construction Management and Real Estate at Reading University in 2000. He became an Incorporated member of the CIOB in 2001.
His wide-ranging experience on land dealings and negotiation certainly stood him in good stead when in the development of the breeding centre, which was built on land adjacent to the existing centre, which was subsequently demolished. Since then it’s been awarded a community project by the RICS, and Morgan Sindall’s Tony Fitzgerald is shortlisted for his work
on the scheme in the forthcoming CMYA awards.
Now that the two large projects are out of the way, and the snagging is complete, Glover’s role has become part-time. He’s hoping to become a charity trustee himself and spend more time indulging his passion for fly fishing and aeroplanes. And as you might expect, there’s the labrador, Holly, at his home in Gloucestershire to walk.
But looking back at his full-time role with the charity, he feels extremely positive. “Some places I’ve worked you struggle as the team has not always gone with you. Here the team are fantastic, lovely people, all very dedicated and like-minded and I get the most enormous job satisfaction from doing something so worthwhile.”
Sian Edwards MCIOB, head of design and construction, Monsoon Accessorize
Sian Edwards: you need passion
Thirty-odd years ago, it was usually a family connection, or possibly a well-informed teacher, that took women into the construction industry. But for Sian Edwards, it was a more random — or fateful — decision. “I filled in a careers form, I didn’t want to work in an office and construction was thrown up as the best match,” she says wryly. “There was no real discussion or guidance. But the computer happened to have got it right and I can’t imagine being in any other industry.”
Edwards joined a contracting firm as trainee quantity surveyor just 16. Now 49, she gained her CIOB qualification in her mid-20s. For the past three years she’s been head of construction and design at Monsoon Accessorize, which involves managing the design, new store programme and retrofits across both brands within the UK. In between she’s seen it all, from high-end bank dealing floors in a role with Barclays, to industrial sheds and social housing, working at head offices and on site.
It’s her job to work with designers and the marketing team to develop new concepts, turn them into practical and cost-effective solutions that can be rolled out across the Monsoon Accessorize empire whilst ensuring they attract shoppers and provide the right backdrop for the merchandise. “I’m not particularly into fashion — as you’ll see from the photograph,” she jokes.
“Fundamentally shop fitting, whether it’s for banks, supermarkets, or fashion chains, is all about understanding the brand and what’s important for the company you’re working for. You need to be passionate about what they are selling — and that’s true whether it’s paint brushes or jackets,” she says.
As for suppliers, Edwards says they need to fully understand their clients’ needs. “Construction firms are becoming more customer-orientated. But these days suppliers need to come up with new ideas for better ways to build stores.” Monsoon Accessorize has frameworks for contractors and consultants, but that’s as much detail as Edwards is prepared to give. She can’t say, for example, how many more stores Monsoon will add to the 400 already in the UK.
However, she reveals: “We select on a multitude of things — price is a strong element, but no good if a firm can’t deliver. We have both large and small firms on our frameworks, we want companies we can build relationships with.”
For Edwards, the most exciting part of the job is “the speed with which you do things. But it is stressful when you’re managing a new concept and developing new ideas. Not all of them are finalised before work starts on site, which can be challenging.”
Being a woman in construction has never held her back, says Edwards. “It’s probably been easier on site than it was in an office. I was the one doing the measuring and paying the wages so any comments I got stopped pretty quickly when they realised I able to give as good as I got.”
Shaun Darley FCIOB, building services director, Mitchells & Butler
Shaun Darley FCIOB has the perfect antidote to the strains of working life — a drum kit next to his desk at home in Dorset where he works on Fridays. “Fifteen minutes bashing away to Keith Moon totally de-stresses you,” he quips. As the building services director of Mitchells & Butler, Darley has the sort of job that piles on the pressure. He spends most of the week visiting one of hundreds of projects on the go across the £2bn turnover-a-year hospitality chain, often leaving home at 4am and not finishing till 8-9pm.
Darley, though, has perfected the art of living on the road. “I enjoy driving, it gives me the chance to talk to the team on the phone and I enjoy listening to music.” Old blues and rock and roll are regulars on the play list, but Darley admits he likes “a bit of classical late at night when I’m tired”.
M&B is a corporate giant of the pub world. It employs 40,000 people and has a £4.5bn property portfolio. Its 1,600 properties include everything from bowling greens to office blocks and a whole host of brands. Among the high street bars and eateries are Harvester, Browns, All Bar One and Premium Country Dining Group, to name a few, all with very different looks and identities and construction and design requirements.
Darley’s role as head of building services spans everything from maintenance and refurbishment to acquisition of new sites and delivering the revenue and capital programmes. His annual budget is £250m across around 1,700 projects a year. The majority fall into the £20,000-£100,000 category, but there are around 200 larger refurbishment projects costing between £100,000 and £250,000 and then around 100 new site acquisitions ranging from £750,000 to £4m in value.
As a measure of the scale of the operation, he has an in-house team of 100 direct employees. And talk about painting the Forth Bridge: “We might not spend more than some large construction clients in total, but what makes it different is that we do it at a pace and keeping the estate refreshed is relentless,” he says.
Shaun Darley: shifted to more collaborative procurement
While some clients have jettisoned partnering and collaboration in the recession, Darley has shifted his procurement model to be more collaborative. He’s trimmed the number of suppliers and incentivised the ones M&B works with to reduce costs in the construction programmes. The competitive tension is retained by getting suppliers to bid against bench-marked costs.
“We just don’t want to have to start at square one each time. We’re trying to get people engaged in our business and have as much passion for it as we do. We don’t want to be constantly retendering.”
In the near future, Darley could well be using his client side experience to help suppliers improve their processes and services offering, as he’s decided to leave M&B to set up as a consultant. “It’s been a stimulating job — I wouldn’t have done it for so long if it wasn’t fun. But I’ve just turned 50. I got the opportunity to do something else and I decided to take it. I wanted to have a bit more flexibility.”
Presumably that means escaping a little more regularly to different climes to pursue his hobbies. As well as music (Darley is also a keen guitarist and plays in a band from time to time) he’s a keen skier, climber and a PADI Divemaster — the teaching qualification for Scuba diving.
He intends to call his new consultancy The Voice of Reason — a reference to his reputation at M&B as gruff Yorkshireman who kept his fellow members of the Change and IT programme grounded.
His working life started on the contracting side, spending 17 years working his way up from site engineer to managing director of a civils firm and studying part-time for a degree in civil engineering. Along with his FCIOB he is also an FRICS, but has now dropped off ICE membership as it wasn’t as applicable after moving to M&B.
Darley is a keen supporter of the CIOB and is one of the authors updating its Code of Practice For Project Management — the “bible” on project management. “I’ve got a couple of non-executive posts lined up — and offers of consultancy. I’m keen to help people deliver better quality — and give something back.”