“Spotlight” on Nick Russell

At MiCiM we take great pride in the fact that over the last three years, we have built an experienced team that is second to none in the industry. We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to a few of them. First up Projects Director, Nick Russell who is very well-known figure in the mission critical sector. He has worked with the MiCiM directors for many years in previous companies and is a great addition to the team.

Tell us a bit about your career.

I first started out in the industry over 40 years ago as an electrical apprentice at a company called Berkeley Engineering Service, where I spent 9 years. I progressed to Electrical Engineer, where I was running contracts up to the value of £1m. The last two years I spent there, were as the site manager on a contract for BBC Television Centre, where I managed a team of 38 people.

I was then approached by a company called Isovel who wanted me to join and set up their new Electrical Division and to carry out works that were previously sub contracted out. I was with the company for almost ten years, having progressed to senior projects manager and then finally to Divisional Managing Director. The business focused on delivering projects for the ‘end user’ market, in particular the Telecom and IT industries.

My next move was to Bellwater as Operations Director on the Main Board. My role was to strengthen the operations side of the business and give technical support to the projects being undertaken. I spent much of the next seven years travelling all over Europe and Asia as the company grew from a £28m turnover, mainly UK based company to a £120m turnover delivering projects in Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Ireland and Thailand. It was a very busy time but one of the most enjoyable times in my career.

The next step in my career was to join Mace Ltd as Operations Director in the Technology Division. Together with a small team, I was responsible for setting up the Mace Technology team tasked with positioning Mace as one of the leaders in mission critical project delivery. During my thirteen years there, I was responsible for the delivery of numerous data centres ranging in values from £5m to £150m as well as the preconstruction and design management on many more.  The final projects I worked on at Mace were on mega data centres in Amsterdam and Denmark for two large multinational companies.

The opportunity then arose for me to join the MiCiM team having worked with many of the team members previously in my career. I am currently working as the client’s project manager on a 40 MW project in Dagenham.

You have had a varied (and extremely busy!) career – what would you say are the key strengths you bring to a team?

I have been fortunate enough to work in different roles throughout the lifecycle of a project – as a client representative, a consultant and as a main contractor which gives me a unique insight and an in depth understanding of project delivery. Having been responsible for both project delivery and design management for a large part of my career, means that I understand the technical side of projects and this gives me the ability to pick up on potential issues early on and manage risk more effectively.

What are the main challenges in the mission critical sector?

The challenges are very similar to the challenges throughout the entire construction industry. Firstly, people move around a lot, so all that knowledge is lost and clients then have to go through the pain of starting from scratch every time they take on a new project. And secondly, briefs given are often pretty poor as clients don’t always know what they want or there are too many stakeholders involved wanting different things. This leads to late change which puts pressure on the programme – and this creates the biggest risk.

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

You have to be good with people and most importantly take the time at the beginning of a project to understand what is important to a client and what their key drivers are. Projects in the mission critical sector are extremely complex and involve many different people so the ability to work collaboratively with different stakeholders is crucial.

And finally, what is it that you enjoy about working with the MiCiM team?

After suffering a heart attacks a few years ago, I appreciate the importance the MiCiM team place on work / lifestyle balance. I’ve always said enjoying going to work and the work environment is just as important as the work itself – and MiCiM is an enjoyable place to work!

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

I love travelling and even though I’ve travelled all over the world with work, I really enjoy travelling just for pleasure now. Sailing is my other great passion and you’ll find me on the water most Saturdays from May to October!