Mace managing director, Ged Simmonds, on how he got started in property, his top film and book picks, his number-one travel destination and the superpower he wishes he had.
How did you join the property industry?
I was not really sure what I wanted to do until I had a chat with a school career adviser who asked me a simple question: what do you like doing? I said that I liked making things. One thing led to another, and I went on to study construction at university. After completing my degree, I went straight to site as a setting out engineer. Since then, I have worked in a variety of roles and projects across the UK in sectors including healthcare, education, residential and offices.
What does your job entail?
Since 2013, I have led Mace’s commercial offices and residential business, which has grown to £300m turnover a year within central London. My role is really varied and no day is the same. I spend half my time with clients to understand and support them with their challenges; and the other half managing teams onsite, growing our talent and working with the supply chain. I stay very close to all the projects I lead, and every week I visit project teams on site.
What do you like most about the property industry?
We are a people-centric industry, and I am fortunate to work alongside tremendously driven clients on some inspiring projects that really push the boundaries. I like to develop teams. It is very rewarding to see projects come to life and be part of the project journey from laying the foundation, to people moving in and beyond.
And what do you dislike most about it?
We are still quite traditional as a sector and we need to drive smarter ways of working, innovate more and understand how to better harness data if we want to increase productivity.
What would you change about the property industry?
I have a deep-rooted passion for the environment, and I think our sector has both a great challenge and opportunity in tackling climate change. I also believe that change starts small. I was brought up in the Yorkshire countryside and own a small plot of land that I am converting into a conservation project. As an industry, we must embrace net zero carbon and collaborate better – everyone from the supply chain, designers, to clients and end-users. We have made significant progress in recent years, but we need to do much more if we want to make a meaningful impact. That is the change I would like to see in our industry.
What barriers or challenges have you overcome?
No two construction jobs are the same. We are an industry where people move around from job to job. So, the challenge is to develop high-performing teams and get consistency and quality on every project we deliver.
What are you most proud of in your career?
It is hard to pin down one particular thing. I am, of course, proud of the projects we build but equally proud of our team culture and breadth of people we work with. I really enjoy the ability to pull together hundreds, or even thousands, of people for a project, often with people we have never worked with before, and then go on to create fantastic buildings over two or three years.
What do you value in people?
Honesty, integrity and enthusiasm. Communication is key to success, and you need enthusiasm if you want to take people on the journey with you.
What advice would you give someone starting a career in the property industry?
Don’t be afraid to talk to people and ask questions.