The development director on the NOMA scheme in Manchester discusses the switch from his career as a professional rugby player, his love of the Sydney Opera House and roast lamb on a Sunday 

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Dan Hyde played rugby union for West Hartlepool and Leeds Tykes between 1997 and 2006

What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date?

Considering my previous career was as a professional rugby player, the transition to a 9-5 working week meant a big change. Going from intense periods of hard work, but then having off-season periods when I could recharge and relax, to then a “typical” working week was really quite challenging. I had to  focus on not burning myself out and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, which I feel like I have now got a hold of.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Diversity. Whether it is construction or the overall property sector, there needs to be a real drive for more diversity across the industry. Bringing more opinions and perspectives forward into discussions about the future of place making – attracting people who have come from different backgrounds – is paramount to making sure we are creating areas and neighbourhoods for all, not just the few.

What have you worked on that you are most proud of?

The 20-acre NOMA development in Manchester’s city centre is genuinely something I have become extremely passionate about. I feel really proud of what we have achieved so far as I can see our vision coming to fruition.

As we near completion on 4 Angel Square, the first operationally net zero building to come to market, I can honestly say NOMA is leading the way in creating a more sustainable, collaborative, creative neighbourhood.

4 Angel Square

Source: Hayes Davidson

4 Angel Sqaure, part of the NOMA development in Manchester, is one of the UK’S most sustainable office buildings

What was the most helpful advice you have been given?

Closed minds lead to nowhere.

What’s your favourite building in the world?

As a proud Yorkshireman, I am not ashamed to say the Emily Moor mast is one that sits close to my heart. Whenever I am driving back after time spent away with work, that’s the landmark that signals that I’m almost home. So I’m always really pleased to see it.

What single piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in your profession?

Be open-minded. You don’t know where or who the best piece of advice is going to come from.

What famous building do you wish you had worked on?

The Sydney Opera House. I grew up in Fiji and, before returning back to the UK when I was six, my family and I visited Australia. I remember seeing the Sydney Opera House on the waterfront for the first time and that moment still sticks with me now. That feeling of awe and pure amazement was fantastic. I would have loved to have been a part of the construction process.


Source: Shutterstock

Sydney Opera House can induce feelings of awe and amazement

What’s it like being you?

A circus clown, really! I am constantly juggling my role at MEPC, spending time with my wife and three children – as well as my all-important allotment.

What do you think your best quality is?

I think I learnt and developed some of my best qualities through my rugby career. There are lots of traits in sport that can, and have, been applied to my work in the built environment: honesty and integrity, loyalty, teamwork and enjoyment.

What trait do you most dislike in yourself? And in other people?

When people don’t use their manners. We can all be guilty of forgetting our manners when busy or stressed, but they do cost nothing and can be used all the time – as my children even sometimes remind me!

Do you have a life philosophy?

As my children repeat back to me each morning: Be respectful, try your best, but most of all, have fun! Courage is the key to life.

Name three things that you like?

My family, my allotment and a Sunday roast/BBQ.

What’s a secret skill we don’t know you have?

I can play the didgeridoo – with circular breathing!

What’s your most prized possession?

I remember when I stopped playing professional rugby, I was finally able to represent Yorkshire at senior level in the county championship. So, my first Yorkshire cap or my championship winners medal from Twickenham have to be up there.

Early bird or night owl?

I used to very much be a night owl but, as time has gone on, and the demands of life have grown, I have made the transition to become an early bird.

What’s your favourite food?

A Sunday roast and if I had to pick… lamb.

What would your superpower be?

Flying. I travelled a lot when I was younger and it made me realise there are so many places I still want to visit. And which I want my children to experience. Top of the list to revisit with them are Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

Dan Hyde is senior development director for MEPC, NOMA Manchester