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James visiting the Taj Mahal while on site in India in April 2017

"Mott MacDonald has a really positive culture that encourages technical excellence"

Why did you decide to join Mott MacDonald?

I was pleasantly surprised when I was offered a role at Mott MacDonald . In my studies (I have a PhD in politics) and in my work (I previously worked for one of the government’s regional development agencies) I have always been focused on social development, equality and diversity, and policy research. I didn’t know Mott MacDonald would be interested in someone with my skills until I was approached through a friend to talk to someone who was building up the company’s sustainability offer, including social development. I was delighted to find a company genuinely committed to doing as much as it could for communities through its work. How could I say no?

What is the best thing about your role?

There are so many, I’d have to give two. The first is the variety; we work on such an interesting range of projects, no two days are the same. I might be working with a government department on disability awareness one day, and supporting the NHS on various initiatives the next. The second best thing is that the work I do has always felt productive, practical and worthwhile. Focusing on equality, diversity and inclusion, I really try to make a difference to people’s lives by helping our clients make the best decisions.

How would you describe the culture of Mott MacDonald?

Mott MacDonald has a really positive culture that encourages technical excellence (we’re all nerds in our own way) combined with dedication and professionalism. The culture is supportive but open enough to allow staff who have great ideas to pursue them. I’m passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion, and we’ve worked really hard to grow that offer at Mott MacDonald, with excellent support from the business. Some of our more recent developments include an internal forum for employees to share ideas and support each other, and the thoroughly genuine commitment from the senior staff in supporting and promoting this agenda.

How has your career progressed at Mott MacDonald?

My career has developed amazingly at Mott MacDonald. I have been able to build on my specialisms and passions in a way that makes me feel genuinely lucky. Working for Mott MacDonald has set me on a path that I’m really excited about and I hope will help me to become the expert and professional I want to be. With support from my managers, I’ve been given opportunities to deliver high profile projects, manage and develop staff, work across different parts of the business, and travel and work overseas. We have a great team who are really supportive of one another, we really do all pull together.

How many years have you worked for Mott MacDonald, and what has been your proudest achievement to date?

I’ve been at Mott MacDonald for seven and a half years now, and it offers incredible diversity, with work in different sectors, specialisms and countries – there are just so many great opportunities. My proudest moment to date has been to see the work I did on inclusion and accessibility with one of our most important clients become a key part of their strategic planning and project delivery processes. To see how you have been able to support a client to make a step change in how it delivers its services in an inclusive way is really satisfying professionally and personally.

Are you involved with any charities or do any volunteer work?

Life is pretty full right now, my work keeps me busy, and my family (my wife and I have a son and a daughter) are my focus. My wife suffered from severe perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder while she was pregnant with our daughter, she has since taken control of her condition and now works with the NHS to help improve services around the country. For my part I have taken time out over the past year or so to speak at meetings and conferences about my own experiences of her illness – to share them with others, reassure people they are not alone, and ‘pay forward’ the help that we received. I am really proud of my wife and pleased to be able to help others by sharing my own story.

Where is your favourite place?

I am a keen runner and fell walker – I love being outdoors, wherever that may be and I love the mountains most of all, however I have one or two places that are really special to me. My love of walking was kindled by my parents and grandparents who used to take us walking in the Lake District every year. Nether Wasdale, with England’s highest mountains in the background and its deepest lake (Wastwater) in the foreground, just makes my heart sing. I could walk, swim or just sit there all day – whatever the weather – and you wouldn’t get the smile off my face. Taking my own family there for the first time a few years ago made it all the more special.

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