Mike is a Senior Project Manager at Turner Townsend and is based in Canberra, Australia.
I began my career in construction after 5 years in public relations and marketing. I felt this helped me bring fantastic stakeholder engagement skills.
Since finishing my masters in Quantity Surveying, I have worked in pre and post contract management and commercial positions across the property and infrastructure sectors.
My focus has been on the utilities sector to deliver key wastewater projects both in the UK and Australia.
I am currently undertaking a Senior Project Manager role leading the commercial management for a new sewerage treatment works in New South Wales.
What is your proudest moment?
Finishing my APC. It was a long stretch and at times, felt impossible. I was extremely happy when I passed. However, I did feel down for a while after I calmed down. I went from studying for years to doing nothing in the evenings. I went from degrees to masters to APC, then nothing. It was a large adjustment!
What has driven your passion for diversity in your industry / sector?
Being gay myself, I am an advocate for diversity in the construction industry. I was nervous when entering, at the fear of being treated differently and not respected. However, my career so far has been fantastic and has helped me unlock some of my true potential. So many different backgrounds could bring much needed perspectives to the industry, a real driver for innovation.
What’s the biggest myth about your industry / sector?
Some people think civil works (and mainly sewerage projects) are boring. I have learned incredible amounts of information from a wide variety of people. The sector certainly attracts some characters (including myself!)
What is the best lesson you have learned in business?
To be less emotional, get the job done and not to look back if there is no reason for it.
How do you maintain your and your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?
I always keep a sense of humour through my work life. I will always maintain a smile and make light of situations. I have never found a better motivation than humour.
What tips do you have for managing your inbox?
Have a folder for every element of your work. Deal with it, and move it to the relevant folder. If you can’t, keep it in your inbox until you can. I don’t believe in a thousand emails sitting in your inbox.
What keeps you awake at night?
I do actually think about my next day often. It does keep me awake at night sometimes, especially during end of month. However, if I didn’t think about work, I wouldn’t know what to worry about!
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To worry less about what people think of me. Do a good job. If people hate me after I do my best, then it’s their problem rather than mine. I have wasted years worrying about people’s thoughts about me, but I can’t control them, so why bother.
How do you relax?
Netflix. I don’t think I ever relaxed before Netflix. Walking helps too.
What does the surveying profession mean to you?
Surveying is a great profession if you want to guide a client and/or contractor through the woods. There are so many great things a surveyor can do to add value and be at the forefront of innovation. We are best placed to drive change, and that is the main reason I picked this career.
Please tell us a little bit about your company and the work you do?
Senior Project Manager working for Turner & Townsend in Canberra, Australia. I started as a Senior Quantity Surveyor working on fit out feasibilities. However, T&T won a sewerage treatment job in Queanbeyan (New South Wales), and asked me to lead the contract/commercial management. This role is typically undertaken by PMs in Australia.
What advice do you have for someone looking to negotiate a new salary?
Don’t settle for less than you are worth. If your workplace will not support you, then go somewhere that appreciate your talents and reward you for them.
What advice do you have for dealing with unsupportive managers?
Try to talk. Communication is very key to understanding someone’s motivations or lack thereof. If you cannot resolve, find a manager that will support you. This may result in changing jobs, but that is a risk which is sometimes worth taking.