From the bottom up (3)
Posted by Jess Faulkner on 3rd Jun 2016
As part of my early career, I spent a significant amount of time on site, assisting the project and construction management teams. It was clear to me that working in projects - as opposed to a mechanical engineering career - would allow me to watch designs physically take shape.
Project management seemed to be at the very core of shaping and delivering outcomes, which is my passion - I am very action- and goal-oriented.
Today, I am chief executive officer at WYG, and am responsibly for group performance, strategy and delivery of ongoing shareholder value. The restructuring and reshaping of WYG into the highly profitable and growing global consultancy business that it is today is one of the major high points of my career.
The collective effort to conclude a debt-for-equity deal, followed by a successful capital raise, onward balance sheet and business restructuring was tremendous.
I love the diversity of my current role, which can involve everything from meeting shareholders in London one day to meeting an important client in Afghanistan or Libya the next. I also enjoy leading and working with such talented people and teams within WYG and our partner organisations. I'm very proud and humbled to lead such a terrific group of people.
There is another key point in my career that stands out: managing the creation and ultimate sale of a new, market-facing nuclear consultancy business in the private sector from the then government-owned British Nuclear Group. The changes required in business techniques and internal culture were immense.
Two key individuals have influenced my career to a large extent. First, my father, whose footsteps I followed in from both an engineering and business perspective. He keeps my feet firmly on the ground.
Second, Sir John Armitt, whom I worked with at Costain and latterly via the Association for Consultancy and Engineering. John and I both believe that the UK would benefit from long-term infrastructure planning and funding, and this seems to be closer than ever to becoming a reality with the 'northern powerhouse' and Britain's Energy Coast.
The most important thing that I've taken away from my career to date is always remember that, just as in life, projects never go to plan. Therefore, having a plan B and plan C ready to implement is critical to your ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Be prepared and always expect the unexpected; this should ensure that you stay ahead of the curve.
The best advice I could give to all young professionals is to be bold, confident and get involved. You can achieve anything with focus, determination and sheer hard work. Look for a respected mentor and listen intently to the knowledge imparted.
Remember that it's attitude, not aptitude, that determines one's altitude. There is, in my view, no real secret or recipe to success. I listen more than I speak and I am always looking to learn and develop.
My approach to projects and business has always been the same: surround yourself with talented individuals and ensure that you are all aligned to the same core objectives, and that each individual understands their role and that of the other team members.
Clarity, purpose and a collective will to succeed is what underpins my career to date. As an avid sportsman, I am highly competitive. I hate losing and I want to be the best that I can possibly be. I also take great pleasure from developing high-performing teams and then standing back as they deliver success after success.
This drive to lead and watch others develop and blossom is what makes my job so compelling and exciting. It's a great industry and project management is such an exciting and varied profession. Carpe diem every day!
Paul Hamer is chief executive officer at WYG.