“Spotlight” on Martin Brooke

We’re continuing our spotlight series and this time we’re chatting with Martin Brooke our Preconstruction and Planning Executive. Martin has a proven track record in the industry and has worked with the directors and many of the MiCiM team for years. Martin is a key member of the Senior Management team, joining us back in 2018, read Martin’s thoughts below:

Tell us a bit about your career and what you’re bringing to your role for MiCiM:

My career started way back in the planning department of Wates Special Works (listed Buildings and Refurbishments). I was straight out of school and on a CITB apprenticeship. My first week was spent folding A0 drawings and back then these were covered in ammonia from the printing process. I should have brought shares in a paracetamol company with the headaches that first week gave me. But I stuck with it and worked at Wates in their other various divisions of Main Construction, Integra Design and Build and Interiors Fit out for 23 years. Following this I joined Mace Technology and then BW before leaping in with MiCiM.

My role at MiCiM allows me to be flexible and different. As a new company but an experienced team we love to push the boundaries and are not afraid to take on projects that others run from. I would like to think I bring creativity and often a fresh view of things as my role doesn’t mean I am on a project full time. This allows me to look at problems from different angles. When you are knee deep in the pressure that the delivery teams are under, being able to offer a different view I hope can help. I also like to think I bring some additional humour to the projects when I visit!

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

Focus and guidance, the programme for each project is the teams view of how the project will run at a snapshot in time with a specific set of information. Projects change on a daily basis whether its design, weather, slow progress or any number of other factors. My ability to take these changes and work with the team to minimise any affect this has on not only the time but the cost of the project is critical.

What are the main challenges in the Mission Critical sector?

Pleasing the Client is by far the most challenging in the Mission Critical sector. Along with this is the delivery of these power and cooling hungry monsters. The M&E systems we install into these facilities are its heartbeat once completed. There is inevitably delays in the design, manufacturing and installation process of the project but the big challenge is when we start to turn on all this vital equipment and making sure it not only “does what it says on the tin” but it also talks to all the other “tins”. At MiCiM not only do we have some of the finest Mission Critical installation management in the business but also the best commissioning team I have ever worked with. If anyone can get two bean cans and a bit of string communicating they can!

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

The ability to laugh. Construction in all sectors is high pressure and pushes everyone to the limit at some point in their career. I find that the ability to still laugh and make someone laugh while under the most intense pressure helps relieve the pressure and take a step back to re-focus. Unfortunately most of the laughing usually comes at my expense!

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

Wow so many to choose from!! I wouldn’t want to put my finger on any one specific project as the challenges for a planner come in every size and shape from the very bid right through to that PC certificate. I have had to deal with projects with everything from base build delays, cranes collapsing, Transformers and UPS blowing up, contractual disputes and of course one of the worst possible situations for a Mission Critical facility – water ingress.

Look at every challenge as an opportunity to learn and as long as you make sure it doesn’t happen again then the challenges should get less each time.

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’m still trying to get Alexa to play the right song I have asked for in our house so that’s about as cutting edge as I get!

Seriously though these Mission Critical facilities are energy hungry animals and with the imminent introduction of self-driving cars, 5G, video streaming services and the worlds never ending thirst for posting their entire lives online the requirement for more facilities will continue to grow.

2019 saw Mission Critical facilities use around 2% of the global electricity demand and its very hard to forecast the future but this could grow to 8% by 2030.

Advancements in renewable and green energy sources along with more energy efficient systems will be at the forefront of every facility I am involved in over the next few years.

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

Planning rates, I still have planning rates that I was given when I first started many moons ago. I still refer back to them and update them as things change or new techniques and products arise. Tech wise I always have a graph paper book in my bag as I often sketch up programmes as people are discussing sequence and durations for projects during meetings. Guess I am old school but when I started the programmes were drawn up with pencil and paper and given to a draftsman to make my handwriting legible. There is still nothing better than a pencil and paper.

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?

As a planner my role tends to be a visiting role and as the projects start to gallop down the final furlong I know how much pressure the full time site team are under. Sometimes the last person they want to see is me so as I mentioned I try to bring some humour and a respite to their hectic day. I am always ready to listen and help out with anything specific that the team may need. Along with this there is trust. No one person can deliver these complex projects on their own. Every member of the team plays their part and you have to trust that they will. With the teams here at MiCiM everyone takes complete ownership of their part within the bigger scheme and we know they can deliver. That said no-one is ever left in isolation and we are all here to deliver on our promise that we make to a Client on appointment.

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

I had the pleasure of working with the majority of the team before joining so knew what to expect from them, and I wasn’t disappointed! The biggest thing for me with any job is flexibility and the ability to pursue ideas outside of the norm. Here at MiCiM I am given both of these and much more. The team here is just like when I started my career, we are more than just work colleagues, we are much closer. There is an obvious management structure but everyone is available to call on at every level. You can often find our directors out on site on their hands and knees getting dirty checking floor voids, pipework or cabling (or making the tea).

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

For those that know me some would say coming to work is my downtime! Anytime other than work is taken up entertaining the kids and family along with managing our smallholding of Pigs, Sheep, Chickens and Bees to mention just a few. Once the kids and all the animals are in bed though its usually feet up and asleep on the sofa in minutes!