“Spotlight” on Andrew Hopgood

Andy joined MiCiM last summer as our Commercial Executive, responsible for all the commercial aspects of our UK projects. Andy had worked with the directors in their previous life, so relished the opportunity to join the senior management team to help grow the business, we finally managed to sit down with Andy to discuss his career so far and what he’s bringing to the MiCiM team;

Tell us a bit about your career and what you’re bringing to your role.

I studied Quantity Surveying at Greenwich University and got my first job by joining a contractor who I met through a careers event while at university. After that I worked at Gleeson’s as a site QS,  and then a close family friend, David Laidlaw, introduced me to Richard Herrington who became my mentor and Manager for a number of years at Mace, where I was introduced to Data Centre projects. I stayed at Mace for 14 years; first joining as a Commercial Manager then promoted to Senior Commercial Manager and finally Commercial Associate Director.

After spending some time abroad living and working in Holland for over 3 years, the future opportunities offered within Mace were based internationally, so it was time for a change as I wanted to be home more. Having worked with the MiCiM directors before we had always been open about the opportunity for me to join when the time was right, until last year they weren’t in a position to offer me a role, but as the company has grown, it became the right time for me to jump and join the team. I now have the opportunity to further my 15 year DC experience, 7 in the UK and 7 internationally, with MiCiM my sole focus is managing the commercial aspects of all our UK based projects.

You have had a long and a highly pressurised career – what would you say are the key strengths you bring to a team?

I am a very relaxed manager and remain focused under pressure. I like to think I am friendly person and easy to get on with and good for team morale. I like to get stuck in whenever a task needs to be completed and not just manage it.

What do you think are the main challenges in the Mission Critical sector?

Understanding client’s needs. Personal and individual knowledge of the client’s requirements and drivers, and if it can be achieved. As an example, knowing which parts of the facility they need up and running and when and what are their drivers and reasons for this? If something isn’t achievable, what can we give them as a compromise.

Recruitment. The QS market is quite light for new talent, we are recruiting at present and we are struggling to find the right candidates to expand the team further as we’re employing in a tough market.

Supply Chain. We have a good supply chain and MiCiM do know a good number of sub-contractors, but the market costs are completely out of our control, so we have to manage client expectations on costs which can be difficult.

What kind of skills does one need to have to enable a career in the Mission Critical sector that spans for 15 years?

Flexibility in roles and locations, you have to go where the work is, so for a significant part of my career I have worked away from home.

Understanding of the technical details, terminology especially in the data centre market and there are many acronyms; understanding the hands-on side of the industry, having constructed a number of houses I know how long tasks physically take to complete.

Over the course of your career, what would you say was your most challenging project?

I did a mixed development project which consisted of new builds, social housing and shops in Putney, that was part demolition, part cut and carve and fit out. It was a fixed price job that was a huge risk to take on, because it was a fiddly project, with unknown elements, so managing that budget was difficult. .

Is there any cutting edge technology which you are excited about, which will be at the forefront of the industry in the next few years?

I’d say that BIM modelling  should be utilised more than it currently is for measurement and surveying, as it greatly assists how you can measure and calculate to give cost certainty, which in turn enables you to understand how much of any material you’d need to order.  It’s main challenge is selling the idea to ensure the client invests in the design team to produce the models at an early stage.

Are there any skill/formulae/tech you learned in your formulative years you still use today?

I received some words of wisdom from my first boss, who once asked me ‘why are we here?’ My response was, ‘we’re building this office block’ and he said, ‘no we’re here to make money!’ What really resonated with me was realising everyone has to make money. Not just the companies, the individuals. Everyone has to make money otherwise the work would suffer if people are undervalued.

As you are always heavily involved in the final push to complete a project, what are your coping mechanisms to deal with the pressurised environment you live in?

I don’t suffer with pressure, I put the hours in when needed. Pressure comes when you’ve got too much work to do and if I need to complete something I will just put the extra hours in, I have been known to be in the office for 12-14 hours in a day, which isn’t ideal but happens occasionally, I don’t have a family at home, so I don’t have the same drive as many others do to get home early, which means I am able to manage my workload, if I need to stay late, I do.

What is it that you enjoy about working with the MiCiM team?

What I find really rewarding is making money for the business. I consider the directors as friends and not just colleagues, so being successful, profits them personally. It can have the adverse feeling at times as I am conscious that its their money so the fear of having a bad job, affects them personally. It’s exciting to work with them and helping them achieve success but at the same time can also feel slightly more pressure.

After a busy week, what do you do in your downtime?

In my down time I actually do a lot of house renovation work as I am expanding my property development portfolio, I have done 12 so far. I also really love travelling; I’ve been to 36 countries and the only continent I haven’t been to yet is South America, so that’s next on my list. I am a sociable person so I really enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

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