After starting out in semi-professional rugby, Operations Director, Mike Elwell, brought his team work and leadership skills to project management. Building the Winchester team from the ground up, Mike now leads Mace’s work on the SCF / NWCH PSF Framework, supporting projects in the built environment across the public sector estate.
- How did you get into what you do?
- At university I played semi-professional rugby and the team was sponsored by Galliford Try, a tier one contractor. They offered me a job as a site quantity surveyor and on the job training. While on site I learned about project management which seemed like a pretty good job so I started looking at how I could progress to that role. I knew I needed a bit more professionalism and technical knowledge so after a few years I moved to Drivers Jonas Deloitte (Deloitte LLP), pursuing my ambition to have a broader leadership role in projects and to develop a more strategic understanding of what was involved. While there I got my chartership and was trained in strategy and delivery.
- How has your career progressed since joining Mace?
I joined with a simple brief to establish a project management business which was capable of supporting regional growth, primarily in the south of England. It was a daunting and exciting prospect to start something new but on day one I had no team, no clients and not even an office. What I did have was the autonomy and the support I needed to launch a new business, and the drive to build purposeful and valued relationships with clients.
- What do you enjoy most about working at Mace?
I love being part of, and leading, a strong team that is loyal, ambitious and conscientious. Mace has supported me to develop new ideas and go after different opportunities.
Staying close to the clients that have grown with me since I started in Winchester is important to me. I now enjoy a national role, driving better procurement and delivery services through the SCF / NWCH PSF Framework. It is an opportunity to drive real change not only in Mace, but in the wider property industry.
I relish making a difference – shaping what we do, where we do it and how we do it. It’s a bit cliché but it’s true.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace?
- There have been a few. The first time we opened an office in Winchester with Mace over the front door was a real turning point. The first major commission we won was with Solent University and that put us on the map as genuine competition to other consultancies in the area. Our on-going work with Hampshire police is perhaps the best example of the power of relationships as we continue to support their estate improvement programme. Securing a long-term relationship with Marlborough College has led to some of the most demanding and eye-catching projects we’ve delivered. Building on colleagues’ success in other regions and winning landmark commissions with the MoD had a transformative impact on our business. In 2020, despite the Covid mayhem all around, we won the SCF / NWCH PSF Framework which is a game changer for the business.
- What is the SCF/PSF Framework why is it so significant?
The guaranteed value and speed to market that the SCF/PSF framework offers has an obvious appeal for local authorities, but the real benefit is when clients know that Mace is the answer to the particular problem they have, providing a better, faster and greener procurement solution.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
There are two central components when you’re a PM – hard skills and soft skills. The first part most people can learn through training, exposure, application, and experience. At its core, it’s functional.
The second part is more difficult; it is predicated on communication and the ability to read a room. Partly emotional intelligence, the soft skills demand the ability to motivate and drive a team, to give good and bad news with integrity while maintaining technical control and accountability for performance. It can be exhausting and richly rewarding.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I built my first house when I was 25. My latest, and last if I get my way, took five years. I now live in a house I couldn’t afford to buy in a beautiful village in Hampshire, surrounded by fields and a short walk to a very good pub.
I also have a small-holding with sheep, chickens, and we grow most of our own food. Coupled with solar panels and air source heat pumps, it’s our attempt to live a more sustainable life. It takes a lot of looking after, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
I like to think I’d be a farmer or a carpenter. Something quite manual where creating things is really tangible. Having said that, if I had done that, I probably wouldn’t have many of the other things I enjoy, so perhaps the road I took was the right one for now.
“The guaranteed value and speed to market that the SCF/PSF framework offers has an obvious appeal for local authorities, but the real benefit is when clients know that Mace is the answer to the particular problem they have, providing a better, faster and greener procurement solution.”