Operations Director for Sustainability
Responsible Business, Global
The world of sustainability needs people like James – who see every challenge as an opportunity to make a difference, who aren’t afraid to be bold and who have the conviction to see everything through until it’s making a difference to the lives of others. Since delivering impactful community programmes in Peru and Tanzania, James joined Mace and is now supporting our clients across the globe to achieve their sustainability ambitions.
- How did you get into sustainability?
- After starting out as a mechanical building services engineer I decided to go travelling for a year. I had grand plans to travel around the Americas but after only making it as far as Peru I got involved in building wind turbines and set up a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which I ran for three years. I taught volunteers from all over the world and, once built, the turbines were transported to remote communities in the Andes where they would serve schools and community centres that didn’t have electricity.
- How did your experience lead you to Mace?
After I left Peru I set up a global alliance called ‘Wind Empowerment’ to help like-minded NGOs deliver more wind turbines across the world. Then I set up a student programme with Warwick University, travelling to Tanzania to install wind turbines in The Serengeti.
Eventually, home called, but sustainability was still a relatively small focus for many companies. Mace was more progressive and because the business spans the full property lifecycle I could see a lot of opportunity to add value and a lot of opportunity to learn more about the built environment.
- How has your career progressed since joining Mace?
- I joined Mace in January 2014 as a sustainability manager and now I’m an operations director. Half of my time is spent with clients, supporting them to achieve their global corporate sustainability ambitions, and the other half is spent helping Mace to develop as a responsible business, which includes developing workplaces that enhance our wellbeing or creating opportunities for social enterprises.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
- It’s the variety that has kept me here this long. I can’t ever answer the question ‘what is a typical day like’. I could be bid writing, creating a campaign, advising a client in North America, visiting a construction site in London, reporting, number crunching, developing concepts into designs, or researching and trialling new tech.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace?
- It has to be the launch of our ‘Knowledge Hub’. Because sustainability touches so many parts of Mace we felt that we were in a good place to create a platform to share knowledge - sharing expertise with ourselves and learning from it when something goes wrong. It isn’t just about sustainability initiatives, the Knowledge Hub is helping the whole business to learn from our mistakes and replicate our successes so we can deliver better outcomes for our clients.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
- Show passion, interest and commitment. To succeed in sustainability you need to have a mindset that you can, and will, make change happen, on any scale. At Mace, we like people that think differently and we want to see people demonstrating a commitment in their own life - that counts for a lot.
- What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?
- Making a difference. I’m not sure what that will look like but it will definitely have purpose.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
- I like landscape photography – it was the first reason I went I travelling.
“To succeed in sustainability you need to have a mindset that you can, and will, make change happen. ”