Andy Sharples, Director of Consultancy at Mace
Mace People

Andy Sharples

Director for Defence, Energy and Utilities

Consultancy, UK

Responsible for Mace’s defence, energy, nuclear and utilities businesses, Andy leads a diverse team that is delivering some of the UK’s most significant infrastructure programmes. From the construction of major nuclear power stations to the optimisation of the British military estate, Andy’s broad cross-sector experience ensures that his advice to clients is grounded in best practice and offers a different perspective.

How did you get into what you do?

I didn’t know what career I’d have when I left school. Instead of going straight into further education, I worked for a structural steelwork company in Bolton. I had a variety of roles, which gave me a good grounding, before my mentor encouraged me to do a part-time degree to become a quantity surveyor in construction.

Having worked as a commercial manager for much of my early career I decided I needed a change of direction. I took up a senior management position at United Utilities and, after a number of years supporting the delivery of water and waste-water services in north-west England, I moved within the organisation to help establish a new joint venture with Scottish Water. The project was a first-of-a-kind programme delivery vehicle, tasked with improving Scotland’s water and waste water infrastructure and, for me, was the critical first step into the world of programme delivery.

How has your career progressed since joining Mace?

I joined Mace in 2008 to build our market share in the utilities sector. Working closely with my team we turned the business around in eight months – in part through securing a long-term contract with Affinity Water. I was then asked to do the same for the energy sector, with a more recent focus on nuclear new-build and decommissioning.

 In recognition of the successful growth in the nuclear sector, I was given the responsibility of directing our defence business, a brief which, in its own right, has significantly expanded over time. 

As Director for Defence, Energy and Utilities, I have a very broad brief, but it means that I get to work with some fantastic teams and use my position to take their new and innovative ideas across the business and into new sectors.  

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?

As an individual at Mace, if you’re proactive in seeking out opportunities you can always find new and exciting challenges. Add to this our culture of empowering and supporting our people and you can find yourself – irrespective of experience level – making important decisions and having the backing of everyone around you in order to make your ideas a success.

What skills do you need to be good at your job?

Most important is the ability to build and motivate teams to meet the needs of the client and project. You need to understand people and be able to get them in the right place and in the right team to deliver to the best of their ability. I get more of a kick out of seeing people thrive than anything else.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?

There are many different avenues into the construction industry, but you’ve got to be able to work hard and be prepared to move to where the work is. If you do, you get rewarded. The truth is, the construction industry is a mobile industry which goes through cycles and locations, but you can do well if you put yourself in the position to take the opportunities that are presented to you.

If I hadn’t gone to Scotland and lived there for five years, I wouldn’t have learned about project management or joined Mace.

What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?

There’s so much opportunity within all of the areas I’m covering, it’s fairly straightforward… keep growing the business. I’ve got really solid teams working in each of the three sectors and I’m looking forward to watching them grow as the business does.

At the moment, my teams are very much focused on the UK, but I see real opportunity in taking our expertise overseas and supporting our five global hubs, so that’s definitely a challenge I’ve set myself.

Our work in the UK remains vital, however, and, being that it’s the newest aspect of my brief, the chance to help the British military create an estate that’s fit for future service personnel is a priority for me. 

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I’m passionate about cycling. I go mountain biking and road cycling most weekends - it’s almost an obsession. In 2018, I took part in the Mace Tour Dell’Italia, covering 256 miles of classic Italian climbs and helping to raise nearly £60,000 for charity, and in 2019 I completed a seven-day, 650-mile ride along the West Coast of California from San Francisco to San Diego. The Mace team on that ride raised £140,000 and, needless to say, we were incredibly happy with that.

Andy Sharples, Director of Consultancy at Mace

“ I have a very broad brief, but it means that I get to work with some fantastic teams and use my position to take their new and innovative ideas across the business and into new sectors.”