“Spotlight” on Chris Jarman

We thought it was about time to have a chat with one of the original MiCiM Directors; Chris Jarman, who has managed to escape the spotlight series up until now! Chris opened up about his career highs and lows and spoke about the future with MiCiM striving to become more energy efficient.

Tell us a bit about your career and what you bring to your current role:

Way back in the mists of time I started an HND in Building having left school it was a thick sandwich course and we had to find a placement for the middle year. I gained a position with Drake and Scull working in their Carshalton Office. I enjoyed the work and having completed the HND went back to Drake and Scull and did an HNC in building services. This I think has shaped my approach to construction ever since, working with many principal contractors who seemed to have a “them and us” between construction and technical services I always tried to develop a joined-up approach, with a foot in both camps. When it came to working on Data Centre projects this is the only way to work, the focus of what we do is technical and must be integrated fully with the build process. I did my first data centre project in 1990 and still enjoy both the technical challenges and the speed of innovation in this sector of construction.

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

Anyone who has a career in the delivery of construction projects must enjoy the pressure to some extent. The key thing I think I bring to the team is a calm head and an ethos that we are a team, focused on the same outcome. I believe five things are key to dealing with the pressures involved in delivering our projects.

      1. Team; Always surround yourself with the best people you can find to support you, and one of the hardest lessons to learn is to then delegate to those people.
      2. Planning; If you have a good plan for the delivery of a project, not just the programme, but the team, the logistics, the construction methodology, and the governance any preparation you can do to de-risk the delivery this will make your life easier once you are in the muck and bullets.
      3. Process; Having strong processes not only helps in the delivery of a quality product but helps jog your memory to do things at the right time.
      4. Honesty; Never promise something you cannot deliver and never try to hide problems these will only tie you in knots and add to pressure.
      5. Make a Decision; Putting off a decision will usually add to the pressure and may lead to bad decisions. Usually if you make the wrong decision you will realise very quickly and can act to resolve the situation.


What are the main challenges in the Mission Critical sector?

The Data Centre sector is also very power hungry by its’ nature and so a focus on developing sustainable energy and building solutions is very much at the forefront of our thinking especially with some of the net zero carbon aims now being considered. Speed to market is also key for our clients and the times expected to build are always being reduced forcing us to focus on new ways of construction and delivery. Both are exciting challenges and force us and our supply chain to rethink the way we do things and the benefits of getting this right are of global importance, it is nice to think we can help make a difference.

What kind of skills does one need to have to enable a career in the Mission Critical sector that spans for 30 years?

As I said before, you need to be surrounded by a good team of people, these projects are a team event and strength in depth is the only way to be successful. To focus a good team you must stay positive, if you don’t believe it can be done, or your heart is not in it, you will not have a successful project.  I believe you also need ability to listen and learn, listen to what the client wants and make sure you deliver it, listen to what your specialist contractors need and then facilitate it. Take these along with the other things I mentioned before and you will have grey hair but still be enjoying it.

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

The last one! Then the next one is always going to be the best one I have ever worked on!

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 think the striving for energy efficiency is going to drive the development of new technologies, we have seen the move towards maximising free cooling, the next step is immersion cooling of servers and will move this on again maybe giving more useable heat that can be reclaimed. I think the development of new battery technologies and efficiencies will feed into the UPS’s to save on space and reduce temperature control requirements maybe the hydrogen cell technologies will also come into the picture more. Also, it is about time we worked out how to do away with diesel generators, someone will come up with a bright idea on that soon I’m sure, although we will also need Uptime to revise their tier requirements to keep up. It has been an industry where technology never stands still, which is always exciting and challenging in equal measure and I can’t see that changing.

Are there any skill/formulae/tech you learned in your formative years you still utilise today?

My time on site as an apprentice engineer taught me to respect those who have learnt a trade and know what they are talking about, I always have time for those who are productive on our sites we cannot be successful without them. As for tech I remember my first mobile phone (which came in a briefcase!) fortunately things have moved on, even if I haven’t!

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 think I deal with the pressure by getting involved, if I know what is going on, or more importantly what is not going on, it can be put right or mitigated which reduces the stress. Again if your plan is right in the first place the final push is just implementation of the last part of that plan.

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

Two things, we have a great team of people all of whom are skilled in what they do but also nice people to be around. Building this business and working with some great clients over the last 4 and bit years has honestly been the best experience of my working life.

After a busy working week, what do you do in your down time?

I am fortunate enough to live out in the sticks so getting out in the countryside and walking the dog is a great way to unwind. Once we are allowed again the motorbike will come out of the garage too, and I will get back on the tennis court, only to be beaten by my wife!

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