16 Feb “Spotlight” on Sam Beardwell-Lacey
Sam joined MiCiM at the beginning 2021 as a Construction Manager. Establishing himself within the MiCiM team by working across a number of different projects including energy storage and infrastructure upgrades to more recently moving to the PM side for our client Compass helping deliver their EMEA DC projects.
Tell us a bit about your career and what you’re bringing to your role.
I started my career with Mace, actually working part-time on a mixed-use development in South London whilst I finished my studies. I then joined full-time on their graduate development programme which was a good stepping stone and one that launched me into the data centre world when I joined the international technology division. I have spent most of my career working in Europe delivering hyperscale data centres for technology companies for both Mace and Fluor as a main contractor. I have also spent some time in North America as a consultant project manager and worked with a UK technology company to help establish themselves in the North American fulfilment and distribution market.
I have essentially spent my entire career in the mission critical sector and feel attuned in how to deliver successful scopes and projects for mission critical clients in the way they want – something I plan to continue to do for MiCiM’s clients. Along with main contracting, I have carried-out client facing and design management roles in the past which I like to think makes me a versatile individual with a lot of determination and enthusiasm to make a positive impact to 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 feel I bring a calm approach to a team which I think is important when working on mission critical projects which run at such an intense pace. I am generally a methodical person and like to implement a process of achieving what the client wants in a well executed manner despite the pressures we are put under. I also like to get stuck in and always want to learn more so if there is a hole to plug, I am always happy to roll my sleeves up if it takes pressure off the wider team and gets the job done!
What are the main challenges in the Mission Critical sector?
I think the huge demand on the construction industry in all sectors is a challenge in general, specifically with finding skilled people to deliver mission critical projects. We need to continue to find ways to show that this industry is a fantastic place for young people to establish a career and not to be drawn to other industries because of the traditional light that is typically shone on the construction industry. We are working on some of the most innovative and technically exciting projects there are and building them in ever more innovative and exciting ways which is something we need to broadcast as an industry and sector to bring talent to all stakeholder teams and continue to deliver better!
What kind of skills does one need to have to enable a career in the Mission Critical sector that spans for 7 years?
Being at still what I would consider to be the early stage of my career (compared to others in the business that I am not that brave to mention!), I think it is important to be well organised, always willing to learn and be determined. Humility is an important skill that is required, especially when working with more experienced professionals and being empathetic is extremely important as at the end of the day it is people who take projects from start to finish and if you do not establish relationships, the project is going to be much harder to deliver!
I think the development of technical skills is also really important when working in the mission critical sector and not to be drawn into the concept that you are either a CSA or MEP manager – the interfaces between the two and the pace that mission critical projects run leaves no room for being siloed on these projects. Do what you do best, apply the experience you have, do what you are qualified and trained to do, but do not have a siloed mentality and pursue to learn more.
Over the course of your career, what would you say was your most challenging project?
I think that every project is the most challenging project at the time however, if lessons can be learnt from those challenges, they quickly become the most enjoyable projects (once they are finished)! If I was to draw on one particular project, I think a hyperscale data centre we delivered for a technology company in Denmark was the most challenging for so many different reasons, however now I think of that project as the most enjoyable project I have delivered and apply lessons learnt from that experience almost daily.
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 have had experience delivering waste heat recovery and sea water cooling systems on some hyperscale data centres in Europe and would love to see the technology used as much as possible in the industry, particularly here in the United Kingdom.
Are there any skill/formulae/tech you learned in your formulative years you still use today?
I like to use software such as Microsoft Planner to capture and close actions both individually and when working in teams. I find that a systematic approach ensures that nothing gets forgotten and you can easily prioritise. Other than that, I would say read everything that gets sent to you, do more listening than talking and don’t forget that there are always people around you that know more about something than you do so don’t forget to use that – there is nothing wrong with asking a question! I would also say, never give up – keep pursuing every route to get something done!
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?
To avoid contributing to or creating a negative environment with the project stakeholders and the supply chain. Do what you can to avoid a toxic environment as this only adds to the pressure and people lose the willingness to deliver with you. The close-out of a project is the toughest time and it is always so easy to forget the hard work and achievements you and all of those around you have contributed to up to this stage. Build on that, keep pushing, don’t give up and keep everyone smiling!
What is it that you enjoy about working with the MiCiM team?
I enjoy the fact that MiCiM have selected professional people who have a passion for building mission critical projects. It is a fresh organisation with a plethora of experience to lean on if you need to and is a business that enables you to do what you do best. Other than that, I enjoy working with what is just a nice group of people!
After a busy week, what do you do in your downtime?
I love everything and anything outdoors. I love to go hiking, something that I am really looking forward to doing now I am back in the United Kingdom and to enjoy the beautiful countryside we have. I also took up sailing two years ago in Finland and have since made that a hobby of mine. Other than that I am a rugby and Formula One fan so undoubtedly spending a bit of time in front of the telly cheering on Saracens and some of the great British drivers in play.