05 Oct “Spotlight” on Paul McPhillips
Paul joined MiCiM at the start of 2021 as a Construction Manager having worked on our largest campus build project to date, Paul’s enthusiasm and ability to bring teams together has seen him promoted to Project Manager. We chat with Paul about his career so far and how he sees his future with MiCiM developing.
Tell us a bit about your career and what you’re bringing to your role:
Having graduated from University I moved to Reading where I was based for 9 years working mainly in London. I started out as a site engineer with Byrne Bothers Formwork and progressed to Senior Project Engineer during my 4 ½ years with them. I was lucky enough to have worked on some excellent projects, starting with Heathrow T2B, moving onto AWE Pegasus, the American Embassy in Vauxhall and then onto Westfield West London. I then made the move to Mace Major Projects where I worked for 2 years on Bracknell Town Regeneration moving onto Binfield Learning Village thereafter for another 2 years.
Starting out working as an engineer on site, I learned a huge respect for the operatives & supervisors on site. They are the key men on any project and keeping them happy & moving kept the project running smoothly. During my time as an engineer, I learned how to get the best out of the operatives on site whilst managing large workloads in high pressured situations on site. There’s no better pressure like the last load of concrete on a Friday evening in London
Taking the technical and managerial knowledge gained in my early years, its gives me confidence to get stuck in on site technically when required and get the best out of the operatives and supervisors when the program requires it.
You have a highly pressurised career – what would you say are the key strengths you bring to a team?
I’d like to think I bring a calm approach to a team, which I believe is beneficial when working in a fast-paced environment such as data centres or the wider mission critical sector. I also like to get stuck in and always want to learn more so if there is a hole to plug, or a role to fill in whatever capacity I am always happy to roll my sleeves up if it takes pressure off the wider team and project in general.
What are the main challenges in the Mission Critical sector?
Time: Right from pre-construction, the lack of time to design, plan and procure for the project ahead is a big challenge currently the construction industry. This then snowballs and moves into the construction stages whereby the lack of coordination in design, on site and amongst contractors create the perfect storm.
Getting experienced personnel in at the right time in the project along with using prefabricated off-site construction is something where managers like ourselves can start to make a difference.
In addition to all of that, we need skilled tradesmen to complete the works, which is something that the construction industry needs a review closer. There is not enough skilled labour on sites at present to keep up with the volume of work and getting it done right the first time.
What kind of skills does one need to have to enable a career in the Construction industry?
Patience, Positivity and a Plan A, B, C and sometimes D. It always gets built, it’s about using the knowledge of the right people around you in the office, on site and with the design team and keeping a constant drive and energy to get these professionals working together as a team transferring that onto site.
Over the course of your career, what would you say was your most challenging project?
As everyone says, “the last one” and that’s not far from the truth in this case!
High security projects in AWE and the American Embassy were the most challenging for me, in addition to supply of materials & resource you also had to deal with 24hr-48hr security checks prior to everything arriving on site. This was an added layer to an area with a high number of dependencies. Build tolerance and programs compiled these issues meaning there was always a constant pressure and when one issue was resolved another was waiting. But that’s why we work in construction.
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?
BIM and BIM virtual reality walk throughs is something that’s in ongoing development. Viewing and positioning 3D BIM models on site to staggering accuracy, validating in real time, and making immediate decisions during construction stages during all phases of construction. This will improve construction going forward if implemented and utilised on sites leaving projects safer and more efficient, reducing waste, de risking processes and allowing teams to build it right the first time. It’s just convincing the client and project teams that the initial outlay will work.
Are there any skill/formulae/tech you learned in your formative years you still utilise today?
My time on site as an engineer taught me to respect those who have learnt a trade and know what they are talking about. They’re a resource I tap into regularly on site. If you want to know the true lay of the land, you’ll always get the answer from them. Similarly for technical assistance in getting over issues on site, they’re knowledge and experience can save you a lot of headaches…
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 deal with the pressure by getting involved, if I know what is going on, or more importantly what may not be going on, it can be put right or mitigated which reduces the pressure. Always remain calm, nobody needs the additional pressure of someone shouting and bellowing around a site office. Count to 10 if all else fails!
What is it that you enjoy about working with the MiCiM team?
MiCiM have a great group of people working with them with a range of experience. I would have no doubts or fear in picking up the phone and calling anyone I’ve met to date within the company for an opinion or assistance. I was lucky to be based within an excellent team on the Dublin Project have learned a lot since I started with MiCiM.
After a busy working week, what do you do in your down time?
I have three little girls, so they keep me on my toes most of the time. Outside of that, I use the gym as much as I can to get a head shower from work and day to day life and as I’m a foodie, counterbalance what I over consume on a weekly basis!! I love my DIY so take on a few projects throughout the year when they come up, any excuse to keep busy…