All things Construction and Coronavirus: An Interview with Martin Caldwell

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Our North West Regional Director, Caroline Oberman, talks all things Construction and Coronavirus with Martin Caldwell, Head of Construction at Prospect Homes

Martin Caldwell has had a long and illustrious career in Construction. He's also hit the headlines recently when the Cabinet Office chose to feature Prospect Homes on social media on their measures they have taken to protect their workers from Coronavirus, and ensure safe working procedures on their sites. Caroline Oberman chats all things Construction and Covid with him.

What was your first ever job and what skills did it teach you that have contributed to your success today?

My first job was collecting glasses in a busy bar, in a hotel in Lytham St Annes. It was a great start to working life and helped me learn good communication skills – especially when I went on to work on the bar – communication with  
customers was so important and something I found very useful later on in my career too.

And from glass collecting, how did you end up in the world of Construction?

It was always in my family…my Grandad was an Engineer working up at Sellafield, and my Dad worked in the oil and gas industry, so you could say Construction was in my blood. I went to University at 18 to study for a Degree in Construction and after Graduation I was lucky enough to land a role at Rowland Homes as a Management Trainee. Although I worked in the Technical and Construction departments I always knew my heart lay with being on site! After my 12 month placement I went on to work as an Assistant Site Manager for Barratt Homes and that’s where my career really took off.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?
In this role every day is a challenge! However there was a lot of pressure, being fairly new into my role as Head of Construction, having to deal with opening sites during a Global Pandemic! It was, however, a challenge that I rose to, and I am very proud of the safety measures that we put in place and the speed at which we were able to turn around the opening of sites. In fact it was so good that I was approached on LinkedIn by The Government to make a video about what we had put into place at Prospect Homes. I had to make the video on my phone which is now used by the Cabinet Office on social media to show how our sites have reopened safely!

Take a look at Martin's video here

And how do you think Covid will affect the Construction Industry over the next 12months?

We have seen signs of material shortages already and this is a worry for the industry, as although the housing market has continued to move we are delayed by things beyond our control. Being partnered with Riverside has enabled our business to be more robust for any downturn. However a second wave, if it was serious enough to create another lockdown, would have some serious consequences for the wider housebuilding market.

What has been your greatest achievement in your career?

It was definitely winning National Site Manager of The Year in the LABC Awards 2017. At the time I was working for Redrow and I was so proud to be chosen to be recognised as the best Site Manager from thousands of contenders. I will remember the feeling of winning that award for the rest of my life – it was really a once in a lifetime achievement!

What qualities do you think it takes to succeed In Construction?

I have found passion to be the thing that has driven me to succeed the most in my career. You also will need good people skills; you need to be able to work with people around you in this industry. It's safe to say you also need an amount of practical ability as well!

What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering the construction industry?

Don’t think of the past…building sites aren’t how they used to be viewed – dirty and rough! It’s a much more
professional environment nowadays and you can make a great career from it – good people are always needed in Construction.

So you have achieved quite a lot in a short period of time already Martin. What is the next big goal you would like to achieve?

I would like to recreate that feeling of winning the LABC award – this time with one of my own Site Managers that I have helped coach to achieve that status. I can't wait to be sat at the table applauding one of my own team!
We'd like to say a huge thank you to Martin for his time and effort in helping us with this interview.

For more information on Prospect Homes visit their website: https://www.prospecthomes.co.uk/

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