I joined Faithful+Gould in 2006 and was originally based in our London office. I was already living in Cambridgeshire when I was asked in 2010 to head up our Cambridge office, and I was delighted to take on the challenge.
I'm passionate about offering clients a first class service and in our region it needs to be a personal service – clients want people who know and understand our area. I'm a born and bred East Anglian, I know the area really well and I felt I had the necessary focus to take this on. The challenge was how to grow the business locally mid-recession.
Our Cambridge office had been operational since 2005, with a steady if restricted pipeline of work. I knew we had to be a lot more proactive and really get out there and promote the excellent services we could offer. I left no stone unturned, even revitalising contacts from 20 years ago when I began my working life in Ipswich.
Networking has been very important. Our office is a member of the Cambridge Forum for the Construction Industry (CFCI). Members include building owners, contractors, sub-contractors, architects, surveyors, engineers, lawyers, accountants and trade union representatives. It’s a great way of keeping up with everything going on locally, networking and sharing knowledge and information. I’m also a committee member of Norfolk Constructing Excellence Club, another great local support network with a focus on continuous improvement.
Delivering an excellent technical service isn't enough – the relationship is hugely important as is enabling clients to solve their problems.
My focus is on using client-facing skills to build great relationships. Delivering an excellent technical service isn't enough – the relationship is hugely important as is enabling clients to solve their problems.
We’ve seen some great successes. In just under three years, our team working on projects within the East Anglia region has expanded from 5 to over 25 and unusually in our industry; we have a 50:50 male/female split. Our client base has expanded significantly. We've managed to do this in a sustained and controlled way and I think there’s realistic potential for our client base and team to double again. I anticipate recruiting further during the next 12 months.
I’m very proud of our team and my objective is for them to develop their individual skills and talents to the fullest capacity – everyone deserves a chance to shine and to move upwards. Our commercial services and health & safety services are especially strong and I’m also focusing on developing our project management and building surveying potential.
Cambridge is the UK hotspot for science, research and education and to work here you need good awareness of the sector culture and dynamics – these are often highly visible, publicly accountable bodies and they differ from purely commercially-focused projects.
Cambridge is the UK hotspot for science, research and education and to work here you need good awareness of the sector culture and dynamics...
Other parts of our region have different strengths so we have a very varied workload. We’re seeing increasing activity in some of the areas between Cambridge, Norwich and Bedford – town planning in Bedford, for instance. There are also a number of large developments in planning and construction around the once village-like suburban areas of Cambridge as well as a lot of activity on the biomedical campus.
On the outskirts of Norwich we are seeing significant investment to infrastructure to stimulate further investment. Suffolk has a strong appetite to develop both its urban and rural areas further, to meet government issues around housing and employment. Essex is a coastal area with ongoing investment around ports, harbours and docks, also the expansion of airports such as Southend.
Our project portfolio is really exciting right now. We’re working for the University of Cambridge on their North West development, on Churchill College's Møller Centre, and also for Cambridge Assessment, the University’s international exam group. We are working with a number of local authorities on projects ranging from schools and offices to waste recycling facilities, with a mixture of cost management, project management and CDM commissions. A number of commissions have been secured through our Scape Framework.
Further afield we’re engaged on several projects for Bedford College and we’re lead consultant for the Norwich Research Park masterplan and delivery of the Centrum building. Other clients include Radcliffe School in Milton Keynes, British Telecom in Ipswich and a variety of infrastructure projects alongside our parent company Atkins. Our health & safety services team also has a busy workload.
It's such a privilege to work with a fantastic team in this exciting and varied region and I’m confident that the Cambridge office will continue to grow in strength and services.