Head of Defence
Leading nationally significant projects that have a direct impact on the safety and security of the UK, Mace’s Head of Defence, David Martin, is fuelled by the ambition to constantly innovate and find new solutions to his client’s challenges. With an extensive and varied career across infrastructure sectors, David is driving the fast-growing defence business unit with a “the sky’s the limit” approach.
- How did you get into what you do?
In my early years, I was interested in physics and maths. I loved structures and building things. When my Civil Engineering degree at the University of Leeds came to an end, I joined Railtrack, the company that was responsible for running the country's train stations, track and signals before Network Rail.
I was keen to get chartered and gain broad experience across design and construction, so I jumped at the chance to work on the West Coast Route Modernisation which gave me a taste of large projects and programmes. From there, I went on to work on the London Underground, Heathrow Airport, the London 2012 Olympic Games and a commercial delivery project for the Ministry of Defence at Abbey Wood. This was my first experience of working in the defence sector and I knew it was the path I wanted to pursue.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
The depth and diversity of our team and the breadth of projects we deliver really sets us apart. It’s a privilege to lead a team that is delivering nationally and internationally significant work that has a direct impact on the safety and security of the UK. I also enjoy being able to develop, grow, and create opportunities for people across our Defence team.
- How do you redefine the boundaries of ambition?
I strive to create a working environment that empowers people to share ideas but also allows for challenge in what we do and how we do it.
Because of our hands-on delivery experience, our people are constantly looking to dream bigger and find new ways of doing things. It’s this “the sky’s the limit” approach that I relish, as it enables us to redefine the boundaries of ambitions for our clients and help tackle the hurdles the sector is facing.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace so far?
We've achieved a great deal as a sector over the past few years. From projects with the Ministry of Defence which have demonstrated our value to UK Defence, to supporting our team to grow and thrive. All of it has been truly inspiring.
But it is the work of our Mace Military Network that I am most proud of. It was set up in recognition of the growing community of ex-military and reservist colleagues joining the business and to support others as they transition from the military to civilian work. From mental health support to recruitment advice and social events, being a sponsor of the network and seeing it go from strength to strength is so rewarding.
- Why Mace?
The environment at Mace is fast-paced, agile and dynamic. It's hard to put your finger on it but embedded in the culture across the business is the determination to go the extra mile in everything we do. In my whole career, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Being a generalist really helps. By experiencing different roles, sectors and client activities, your eyes are open to new ways of doing things and in this job, that's invaluable.
To be an effective leader, good communication and strong decision making is vital. You need conviction and credibility but also the ability to stop and revaluate when it’s not working.
It’s very important to have a sense of purpose, a vision and the ability to have fun along the way!
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Don’t waste time. If you’re passionate about something, go after it. Be sure to challenge yourself and seize every opportunity. Often, this is when the greatest things happen.
- What motivates you everyday?
- Seizing opportunities to grow and continually improve. The idea of staying static, either as an individual or business, is not an option. People and companies need to persistently look for ways to do things better and Mace is a company that embraces this mindset and gives people the space to drive new ideas. I would much rather approach something differently and see what the outcome leads to than stick with conventional thinking. You can always go back, learn, and reset if it doesn’t work.
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
- I love the outdoors so it would probably be something sports or outdoor related – perhaps running a mountain lodge in the Alps, teaching skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer.
“Because of our hands-on delivery experience, our people are constantly looking to dream bigger and find new ways of doing things. It’s this “the sky’s the limit” approach that I relish, as it enables us to redefine the boundaries of ambitions for our clients and help tackle the hurdles the sector is facing.”