Robert McQueen is the Project Director – Consultancy, EMEA at Soben. When becoming a professional footballer didn’t quite go to plan, Rob set his sights on the construction world and has been involved in some very impressive projects.
Tell us about your career journey to date
My dad was an electrician by trade and worked on Building Management Systems (BMS), so I spent a lot of time as a child in plantrooms with him. I really enjoyed it, mainly because we got to travel to some interesting places like RAF bases. That’s what sparked my interest.
When my dreams of being a professional football player started to diminish, I knew I had to look at an alternative career plan.
I went to the University of Strathclyde to study Architecture, but that only lasted a year as I felt I didn’t have enough artistic skills to continue. I then stumbled across Quantity Surveying as an option, and I was really attracted to the opportunity to study the course part-time, gaining real-time job experience whilst I studied. After that I was able to work on a wealth of projects including Clydebank Leisure Centre, Inverclyde National Sports Centre and The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.
Which lead me nicely to become a Director at Soben.
You’ve worked on many projects over the years – which two stand out for you?
Atlantic Square Glasgow was a £750 million commercial development for Royal BAM Group. It is a 284,000sqft modern, contemporary office space in two buildings, with residential and retail space in a third building fronting onto Argyle.
This was a major project. I oversaw the cost management from the beginning all the way through to completion, in the heart of the city centre of Glasgow. As this is my hometown, it’s always a nice reminder when I’m driving by to see the part I played in the build.
The next project is The Social Hub (TSH), again in Glasgow. TSH is a unique combination of co-living and co-working in the heart of the city centre. TSH will be Glasgow’s largest hotel, with 496 rooms across 9 floors, and a wealth of amenities including a restaurant, coffee bar, conference rooms and a rooftop bar.
As the cost manager, Soben were appointed by TSH to provide pre- and post-contract cost control services including producing tender and contractual documents, tender appraisals, value engineering, post-contract cost control (change management), interim valuations, cost reporting and agreeing the final account.
This complex and prestigious development will be the first of its kind for The Social Hub in the UK and one I’m taking great pride in contributing to.
What has been your favourite project you’ve worked on, and why?
My favourite project to work on was the International Financial Centre Tower 2 (IFC II), in Jakarta, Indonesia.
On this project I worked with the client to manage the procurement of various Subcontractor packages including the major Curtain Wall and External Façade packages.
IFC II was owned by Keppel Land and developed by Samsung, the building is 213.2 meters tall with 49 floors above ground and 6 below ground. It totalled 50,200sqm and was the first project in Indonesia to be conferred the highest Green Mark Platinum Award by the Building and Construction Authority of Singapore (BCA).
This was my favourite project mainly because of the scale of it and it was also a new environment for me to work in.
What has been the most challenging project you’ve worked on, and why?
The most challenging project I would have to say was Lochside Academy, a secondary school in Aberdeen.
On this project we conducted the pre-contract cost management. However, when work started, we found that the ground was in poor condition, so we had to do a lot to re-lay the foundations properly, whilst keeping the project within budget.
Whilst this was challenging, with an unforeseen speedbump, it showed me that these problems can happen, but it’s how you react that shows just how good you are.
What have been the defining moments of your career?
Without sounding cheesy, it would have to be joining Soben. I’ve always been in big consultancy, so to be here now is a great feeling. It’s such an exciting stage of scaling up and I have been given more responsibilities, so now I am able to showcase my skillset.
I have ambitious growth plans and targets. I would really like that growth to be as organic as possible through development with our existing clients, recognising our excellent service and the commitment to our partnership with them. We have some strong experience in some exciting growth sectors, and I am keen we capitalise on that and bring in new key clients who fit our profile and who we are proud to work alongside.
Beyond that, I really want to help develop the talented team we have and make sure that Soben is a place where people love their work, feel supported, challenged and together. That will be important as the team continues to grow across the world.
Did you always want to be a Quantity Surveyor? If you weren’t a Quantity Surveyor, what would you be doing?
A footballer. I wasn’t good enough to make it pro, but I would have LOVED to be a professional football player.
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t be scared to speak up – you have something real to contribute.
To be more patient. I was always pushing for more responsibility and wanting things to happen immediately. Ultimately a career takes time to naturally grow, and it is fine to sometimes slow down, enjoy the journey and appreciate you still have a lot to learn.
If you keep doing the small things right every day, eventually it will all pay-off.
To find out more about Soben’s consultancy services in UK and Europe you can contact Robert on the details below:
Director – Project Director – Consultancy, EMEA