Why did you decide to join Mott MacDonald?
I had worked on a few projects with Mott MacDonald as an independent consultant. I’d been freelance for six years and had enjoyed the ‘being light on your feet’ aspect of this way of working. However, I was impressed with the quality of people in Cambridge Education and the great work they did and thought I’d like to be part of a permanent team again. A good call – I never regretted it.
What was your first impression of the people at Mott MacDonald?
The thing that struck me most was the way people focused both on technical quality and business performance. Most of my new colleagues, like me, came from a public sector education background and therefore had a strong streak of idealism (wanting to make a difference to the lives of poor children). However, this was combined with a strong focus on the need to manage financial performance and make a profit. At the time, this was quite new to me.
What’s the best thing you’ve learnt about Mott MacDonald?
We have a real emphasis on quality, especially in respect of the people we recruit (consultants as well as staff) and the way we are able to develop people.
What project(s) have you been working on?
I have just completed work as team leader for the Lifelong Learning II project in Turkey (having also been team leader for a predecessor project). I am also project director for two big projects in Nigeria – the Teacher Development Programme (TDP) and Developing Private Education in Nigeria (DEEPEN). These build on the success of ESSPIN, which we won in 2008, and was a game changer for our international education business in many ways. It was the biggest (initially £86m – later extended to over £120m) and has been highly successful in terms of scale and impact. These successful projects have provided the platform to create a successful local business (Cambridge Education Nigeria Ltd) for which I have helped design and implement a management training programme for local staff. I am now starting work as a short term expert in a vocational skills project in Mozambique (JOBA).
When you’re not in the office where can you be found?
With my grandchildren, in the kitchen, walking on the beach in East Lothian, watching football and – now and again - in the pub enjoying a glass of wine, malt or real ale.
If you were to live anywhere, where would it be?
I really like where I do live – a small village near the sea in Scotland. If I were to choose somewhere else, it would have to be a part of the world where the seasons change. There are many cities in Europe I love but my hopelessness with languages other than English would rule most of them out. Of all the places I’ve visited, probably Cape Town (or surrounding area) would be the pick.