Jonathan King's story
Having set out for a career in surveying I found myself delivering multi-million pound schemes managing a team of consultants, contractors with several different end users and a multitude of stakeholders. While working as a client representative and contract administrator for construction projects delivering new education assets in Cambridgeshire I took it upon myself to work toward and subsequently obtain several APM qualifications in order to hone my project management skills. Obtaining APM’s qualifications helped me to successfully lead the project team to deliver these projects successfully.
The qualifications and experience I obtained then attracted the UK’s largest independently owned logistics company, Uniserve, to bring me across into a client side project manager role to help deliver exciting and innovate projects which are to be delivered in the coming years.
Describe your career journey so far and how your path has led to your current position.
I started out my career graduating as a building surveyor from the University of Reading. This was in the height of the recession, so after exhausting various opportunities I took an internship as a project manager assisting on some prestigious London projects such as The Lancaster’s, Hyde Park and Queen Mary Biotech Enterprises Innovation Centre.
After a short period I then entered into a building surveying role (albeit it project driven) at a medium-sized property consultancy. This developed my knowledge of the property and construction industry whilst also giving me some project delivery experience up to contract values of around £750,000.
After obtaining this basic industry knowledge and experience I moved onto the UK’s largest Engineering and Construction Consultancy, Atkins. Again this was in a building surveying role, however I soon moved into a core project management role working as a client representative and contract administrator for construction projects delivering new education assets in Cambridgeshire.
At this point in my career I took it upon myself to work toward and subsequently obtain several APM qualifications in order to hone my project management skills. Having set out for a career in surveying I found myself delivering multi-million pound schemes managing a team of consultants, contractors with several different end users and a multitude of stakeholders.
What kinds of projects do you work on, and what role do you play?
In my current role I deliver logistics-based construction projects as a client organisation Project Manager. An upcoming project for our core business is a £110 million, four storey Super Distribution Centre. The project itself is brimming with innovation; being port centric (as opposed to population centric). It is a multi-storey concept - a largely unexplored area for warehousing in the UK.
Covering an 11 acre footprint and providing over 1.5 million sq. ft of floor space makes it one of the biggest buildings of it’s type in the world. Further to this I also work with the Uniserve Managing Director and Property Director in delivering projects for non-core business investments and development opportunities. For example one of these current projects is a public house to six residential apartments, which will potentially be used for future staff accommodation costs in support of the Super Distribution Centre.
Tell us about your proudest moment in your career so far
Achieving APM membership is the proudest moment of my career to date. The experience of obtaining membership through various APM qualifications was enjoyable but very challenging. However, with great challenge came great reward, as membership led to added respect from peers, increased client, stakeholder and personal confidence.
Ultimately, the most gratifying reward was better performing projects and project teams. A further unexpected reward was obtaining International Qualifications of Level D and subsequently C (Certified Project Manager) status from IPMA.
Tell us about a challenge you have had to overcome in your career, and what you learnt from the experience.
When moving onto larger multi-use projects, a challenge that I faced was conflicting stakeholder and end user views, which had the effect of reducing stakeholder buy-in to the project.
In order to overcome this I altered my stakeholder communication plan and changed the methods of communication to try to understand the needs and requirements of the stakeholders from varying backgrounds with different requirements.
This process taught me the importance of empathy when delivering projects. I originally started in the project profession believing that time, cost and quality constraints were key to project success, however, I now believe that when delivering change, managing stakeholder expectations and requirements are key to drive the process if the project is to be a success.
What advice would you give to somebody new to the project profession?
Project management opens the door to working on exciting, interesting and innovative projects. My career to date - although largely construction and property focused - has led me to work on projects delivering laboratories and research facilities to schools and nurseries, a £200mil CAPEX residential refurbishment and an innovative four storey warehouse scheme.
This variation of projects and people from various backgrounds ensures that no two days are ever the same, keeps your work exciting and encourages you to push yourself onto bigger and greater challenges.
I would also advise that anyone looking to start or step across into project management seriously considers APM qualifications.
Those thinking of starting a career in another area may actually end up in the project profession, and could be midway through their career and not actually realise they are already managing projects, albeit it without that project manager title. By supporting this early experience with qualifications, you will open up opportunities and increase your own confidence through successful delivery of your projects.
Explain your decision to become a member of APM
As I rather found myself delivering projects, rather than opting for a project management career from the outset, I chose to obtain membership of APM through the taught route. With around five years previous project experience, I had the option to join APM through an experienced route.
However I opted for the qualifications, firstly with Project Fundamentals (PFQ), then the Project Management Qualification and finally the APM Practitioner Qualification (PQ). I also fully expect in the next year to put myself forward for Registered Project Professional.
My thought process behind taking a taught route, rather than applying based on previous experience, was to fully understand the way in which other project professionals manage projects in a bid for continual self-improvement, being an underlying theme not only for myself, but also for my project delivery. APM, as I expected, delivered in swathes by providing a wealth of knowledge within their BoK which is evidently underpinned by collective centuries of project management experience.
How does APM membership help you in your job role, career and studies?
By becoming a member of APM, and taking the full set of APM qualifications, I have rounded and focussed my previous uncouth style. It has enabled me to drive successful projects in order to realise benefits with the least stakeholder resistance; getting the most out of the project team and whilst maintaining programmes and budgets.
This more methodical and logical approach to project management has equipped me with the confidence to leave a very process-driven PM role within a large construction and engineering consultancy, to join a small property/project department as part of a completely new industry, with very limited process control.
Not only did this lead to a better overall package, it has led to a greater sense of personal achievement and job satisfaction, not to mention an appreciation of an interesting new sector that I am now immersed within. My MAPM status, teamed with my APM qualifications certainly made this move possible and I believe that it definitely enables career mobility amongst a wealth of other benefits.