Simon’s career started in the steel manufacturing industry in 1995 learning mechanical design and fabrication. As technology advanced so did his skill set and he moved into product design for the food service sector working for clients such as Nestle, Unilever and Virgin.
As part of the end to end product design process, planning and project management became more and more part of his working life and this became something he decided to focus on as he took a job as a project manager working with in the London Underground supply chain. Being accustomed to processes and procedures within the LU network he moved to work directly for London Underground during the PPP contract (Public Private Partnership) working closely with Metronet and their suppliers.
It was here that his career as a planner finally took shape working on stations and line upgrade projects. He became a full time planner working on the Victoria Line Upgrade (VLU) and was then promoted to Programme Planning Manager in 2006.
After successful delivery of the VLU (ahead of schedule) he became head of planning for deep tube line upgrades and subsequently head of planning at Transport for London (TfL) where he was responsible for planning within capital projects across all transport modes. He was also heavily involved in planning and controls career development, including direct responsibility for the TfL planning apprenticeship.
Simon joined HS2 in March of 2015 as head of programme planning where he was responsible for planning and planning capability on one of the largest infrastructure programmes in Europe.
He is now a co-founder of th3rd curve ltd, member of the APM board, an active member of the APM Planning Monitoring & Control SIG, chairman of the Volunteer Steering Group (VSG) and co-author of the APM SIG Guide on Planning Monitoring and Control.
APM board member interview
- Why and when did you decide to go into project management? I didn’t see it as a conscious decision at the time, I was doing product design and it got to the point where I had to organise the manufacture, delivery and client interface, turns out I was actually project managing without even knowing it.
- Who was your first employer? My first dedicated project management employer was London Underground (before it became Transport for London) where I worked on the stations upgrade programme during the Pubic Private Partnership (PPP).
- What are your career highlights? I think that the Victoria Line Upgrade was the best project that I worked on due to the fantastic people, diversity and complexity of the programme however I think that running the TfL planning apprenticeship was the stand out moment in my career as I had the privilege of mentoring over 20 amazing young people and helping them get started in their careers.
- When did you become a member of APM and what are the main benefits? I joined in around 2012 after a friend recommended it to me. I think the people I have met through the volunteer community have been the best thing about being a member as you really do feel part of a community.
- How important are professional project management qualifications? I’ve always valued the application of knowledge and experience most however I think that qualifications really help provide a solid foundation of principles that can boost you learning journey considerably. Establishing a common understanding of what good looks like it important and a key part of the qualification process.
- How did you decide to stand for election? I am an appointed board member however I stood for election after my first year in order to continue to contribute to the journey of the profession. I really felt that this is a clear way to make a real difference to society and I still do.
- What difference do you make to APM as a board member? I think that I bring my own passion and a unique perspective to the team, thinking differently is key to building on the experience of each other to achieve something greater than the sum of its parts.
- What keeps you interested in project management? It’s an opportunity to work in one of the most transferable of all professions. We can contribute to pretty much any change initiative and the benefits of working cross sector can be very significant to the projects themselves. It’s like we have one of the best kept secrets as once you discover it you wouldn’t want to do anything else.
- What advice would you give to someone starting out in project management? Look to others for help, our language can seem impenetrable at times but what we do is actually common sense in many regards. Finding a community that can help put knowledge into context is a great way to get started as it builds understanding and confidence.
- Who has been the most influential in your career? I would say the late Bill Edwards (Bechtel) has had the greatest impact on my professional life. He put the happiness of his team above everything else and in doing so inspired many people. His lessons live on in everything I do.
- What does chartered status mean to you? It means that we can at last gain the recognition we deserve as a profession, and as society and the projects we deliver become more complex and diverse we too can attract a new diverse generation of project professionals to help change the world for the better.