Consultancy, North America
Chicago native, Mike Pollard, may not have fine-tuned his angler skills just yet, but when it comes to delivering multimillion-dollar retail programmes his expertise is second to none. As Operations Director for Mace, Mike draws on 15 years of experience in project management, construction and real estate to deliver distinctive value for retail giant Walgreens.
- How did you get into what you do?
I was born in the southern state of Alabama, but grew up in Northlake, Illinois, half an hour from Chicago. After high school I pursued a four-year degree in business management at Bradley University. My concentration was legal studies, but I was never tempted to go to law school. I was ready to head out into the real world and start working as soon as I finished university.
Early on in my career I had a great start in construction, working on site for a commercial developer in the Chicago suburbs. The company was family-owned and our first project was a 33,000 sqft shopping centre, which we built from the ground-up, managing from construction through to leasing and operations. It was a great experience. When I started, I was new to the industry, but I quickly learned how to read the drawings and speak the lingo.
- Why Mace?
In 2013 a recruiter contacted me regarding an opportunity at Mace and I immediately recognised the potential for growth. Mace works on many of the world’s most iconic programmes and has a rapidly expanding footprint in North America. I knew that joining would be an exciting opportunity to make a difference – and I was right.
My first role was as a project manager on the renovation of a free-standing bank in Naples, Florida. It was a fast-paced project where the new facility needed to be ready by the lease expiration of the current space. We pulled it off, and I learned many lessons along the way, among them – 5pm is not too late for coffee. I went on to manage additional renovation and restack interiors projects. A year later, I was assigned to the Walgreens account where it’s been a fantastic journey ever since.
My initial project for Walgreens in 2014 was to replace keyboard trays and carry out parking lot site surveys – and I now oversee the entire account. Mace’s relationship with Walgreens dates back to 2012, and we have gone from a small scope of work to delivering project and programme management services on a national scale. It’s incredible to think we’ve touched 9,200 sites for Walgreens across the U.S. and are now supporting teams within real estate, workplace solutions, non-retail facilities, and various healthcare partnerships. I feel fortunate to be carrying the torch forward and working with an amazing team.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role?
Although Mace is a large global brand, it has a personal feel and an entrepreneurial spirit that allows us to make a difference for the clients we serve. We’re an industry leader in key areas such as sustainability and innovation and there are endless opportunities to get involved; all you have to do is raise your hand. Clients know that they can trust us because the aim is always to deliver the best quality of work. We are constantly pushing ourselves to innovate, find the best solutions and help our clients realise their ambitions.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Understand what it is you want to achieve, work hard, and don’t be afraid to try different paths. One of the great things about Mace is that we have many avenues to success.
I operate under the ‘take pride in what you do, and let your work do the talking’ mentality, as what I’ve realised is a job well done will garner its own attention, and create additional opportunities. Above all, it’s important to have passion for what you do because it translates into a drive that benefits not only yourself, but your colleagues and your clients.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy fishing but I’m terrible at it. I take my kids to a local lake to fish for Largemouth Bass and sometimes Catfish. We always have a great time, but they have a much better catch rate than me!
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
I’d probably be doing something totally different, like mining for gold in Alaska. Being out in the wilderness, operating heavy machinery and digging for gold – it’s the American dream.
“We are constantly pushing ourselves to innovate, find the best solutions and help our clients realise their ambitions”