Andrew Gallacher was made Managing Director EMEA at Soben in 2019. We catch up with him to get an insight into a typical day, discuss his future plans for Soben EMEA, and find out what inspired him to work in the construction industry.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day generally starts the day before. I normally spend 30 mins after I have read my son’s bedtime story planning my important tasks for the following day. This allows me to get the most out of the day and focus on what will get the business the maximum value.
My alarm is set for 6:30 every day. It’s a shower to wake me up then time to get my son Rory up and ready for nursery. I enjoy the time we spend together first thing as it provides real focus on the most important people in my life. I get the little man his breakfast, listen to his funny tales then leave for the office around 7:20. I am in the fortunate position to live very close to where I work so generally at my desk and ready to start the day at 7:30.
My workday is very varied, and I am in a fortunate position to have a fantastic team of people working for the business and delivering the service to our clients. My day would normally be broken down into four main areas.
- Business planning – where are we now, how are we performing and what do we need to do differently to meet our objectives in the short to medium term.
- Business development – engaging regularly with key clients both existing and prospective to ensure we understand how we can support them to deliver their objectives.
- Staff engagement – regular touch points with my direct reports to ensure they have the necessary support to deliver their own objectives.
- Business reporting – keeping the group board fully appraised of business unit performance. With full P&L responsibility for the region the key drivers are regularly reviewed including;
- Gross and Net margin
- Operational KPIs
- Staff Engagement
- Client Satisfaction
What first attracted you to the construction industry?
My uncle worked in the construction industry and started life as a bonus surveyor before moving on into construction management and then leading his own business. As a young lad I always looked up to him and asked him some advice when I was around 19. I always enjoyed maths and when I left school, I went off to university to undertake a completely different career (Physics and Electronic Engineering) My first year at Glasgow Uni did not go well and I was uninspired with the course and decided I needed to change. I knew that my next decision had to be the correct one and I started looking into the prospect of becoming a quantity surveyor. My uncle suggested a good career path would be working with a main contractor and going to Uni on a part time basis. He put me in contact with the chief surveyor of a regional main contractor and I applied for a trainee QS position. I was successful at interview, and it set me off on a career that I love. I can genuinely say I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
What are your predictions for the construction industry over the next 12-18 months?
After the uncertainty of the past 18 months due to the pandemic I believe the construction industry will be at the forefront of the UK’s growth.
The main areas of growth will be centred around Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Health Care, Data Centres/Technology, Residential, and the drive towards Net Zero Carbon on all of construction projects.
Innovation and new ways of working will be at the forefront of what we do as construction professionals. With tightening resources our clients, both public and private, will be as focused as they ever have been on ensuring best value for all construction activities.
Enlightened clients will be focused on the true life-cycle cost of their buildings to ensure we meet our legal and moral obligations associated with the Paris Agreement. As an industry we are obligated and have to be driven to ensure the impact the construction industry makes on our environment is a positive one and the buildings we plan and build today are environmentally friendly and sustainable for decades to come.
Collaborative working across all disciplines will be key to achieving our goals, gaining consensus each stage of the construction project is critical to avoid unnecessary disputes later.
What are your goals for Soben in that time?
We are fortunate to work with outstanding clients which allows us to provide support on some of the most interesting, complex, and landmark projects across UK, Europe and beyond. We also have a fantastic team of professionals working for Soben who are focused on delivering on the promises we make to our clients.
Both the above provide us with a solid foundation and a fantastic opportunity to grow our business with existing and new clients.
Over the next couple of months, we will be announcing two key Senior appointments to the team which will add fantastic experience and knowledge to our business, allowing us to move with confidence to support our ambitious growth plans.
The plan is to increase our team by 30% over the next 12 months with a view to expanding our experience in the key market sectors of infrastructure, renewable energy, and data centres. We will also be targeting growth in new services including project management and project planning for key clients to ensure we can provide an integrated delivery solution for their projects.
What have been your defining career moments?
- Delivering my first profitable job as graduate contractors QS when I finished my studies
- My first steps into managing people with my previous business – two members of staff when I joined but eventually grew to a team of over 100 multi-disciplined individuals
- Being made MD of Soben EMEA before I turned 40 – to be trusted by Soben founder and CEO Scott Smyth to lead our business is a great privilege and one that I take extremely seriously
What career advice would you give your younger self?
- Always work hard and commit to everything you do
- Be honest, fair, and reasonable in all your interactions with others
- Align yourself to the best people, take advice when it is offered and do not get too deflated when things do not work out the first time
To find out more about careers at Soben EMEA, or how Soben EMEA can help your business, contact [email protected]