Our 2016 Young Project Manager of the Year, Midlands, is James Faflik who is a Graduate project manager at Gleeds. We caught up with James to find out how he ended up in project management and what route his career path has taken so far:
From an early age, I have always had an interest in the built environment and the processes involved in the construction and management of modern day buildings. My brother works for a large construction company in Nottingham, and from the age of 16 to 21 I worked alongside him on-site during breaks from school and university. Initially the work was to provide me with an income during the summer months, however it wasn’t until I was half way through my undergraduate degree, studying Sport Science and Exercise at Nottingham Trent University, that I realised the wealth of exciting, long-term career opportunities available within the construction industry.
During the final year of my undergraduate degree I began to research management opportunities within the industry. It became quite clear to me that to gain a management role within a global consultancy I would need to undertake a construction-related degree. With this in mind, I applied for the role of graduate project manager at Gleeds construction consultancy in Nottingham and was successful due to the experience and skills I gained in managing and motivating people whilst studying within the sport environment. To build on this, and to ensure I was equipped with the skills I needed to pursue a managerial career that enhanced my vocational experience, Gleeds offered to support me in studying for a MSc in Project Management (Construction) on a part-time basis.
Integrating a part time MSc and work
Coordinating my MSc modules whilst working at Gleeds has been a huge benefit to my graduate programme. At the beginning of each academic year, I meet with directors within the Project Management team to ensure what I am working on at Gleeds aligns with the modules that I am studying for that period. I have a Gleeds contact for each module which helps to support and grow an in-depth knowledge of the studied topic area. Integrating real-life experience with academic study allows for a practical application to compliment the theory learnt during the course.
2016 Young Project Manager of the Year
Of the five candidates shortlisted for the APM Midlands Branch Award, I was nominated for my role in the delivery of the GlaxoSmithKline Carbon Neutral Laboratories for Sustainable Chemistry at the University of Nottingham.
I was very proud to have been named 2016 Young Project Manager of the Year for the Midlands. Following my early career change I have worked hard to build a career in this industry, so to have gained this kind of recognition was very gratifying. Bringing teams of talented people together to deliver iconic buildings which will stand the test of time is a privilege, and I hope I can go on to inspire others young individuals to follow in a similar career path.
APM career paths at Gleeds
Gleeds has an internal project management training programme which is aimed at developing the skills of graduates and advanced graduates within the business. The programme has recently expanded to include an APM pathway, meaning an APM qualification could be achieved at the end of the programme if employees wish to take this route.
My next steps
Through continuous learning and development, I want to expand my knowledge and skill set of the built environment and construction industry - with a particular focus on project management. I think it is important to commit to personal and professional development, especially within the competitive construction market, which is why as a member of APM, I attend various branch conference events to keep me up to date with the latest news and market trends. Understanding the market trends enables me to identify opportunities and develop my vision for the future, both organisationally and personally.
In addition to my recent APM awards success, I have also been announced as one of just four employees selected for a place on Gleeds’ coveted Travel Scholarship. Staff from across the company were invited to submit proposals detailing which of Gleeds’ overseas offices they would most like to visit and what benefits a placement could deliver, both personally and business-wide.
I’m delighted that my proposal to investigate the sharing of construction best practice between the UK and America was chosen under the Gleeds Travel Scholarship. I can’t wait to immerse myself in our New York operation, learn from the team and bring those lessons to bear in the way we do things here in the UK. Through cross-culture experience I hope to develop my personal skill set to share with others.
My aspirations within the next five years are to broaden my skill set through cross-culture learning and build on the achievements of my early career to become a recognised leader within the project management field.