The partner and leader of the building consultancy and project management team in Newcastle on the challenges of lockdown, the pursuit of net zero and how he manages a team working across different sectors delivering multiple services

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Ian is a partner at Knight Frank. He heads up the building consultancy and project management team in Newcastle

Why did you choose construction as a career?

I didn’t have any family or friends in the industry. I wanted to be an architect but was put off at school – I was told I wasn’t doing the right subjects etc.

After my A levels, I went travelling and, just prior to jetting off, I went to the local library and picked what seemed to be the nearest related subject – surveying. To be honest I was too busy enjoying myself “down under” to change tack after that.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

Setting up a new service offering in a new location, which has now been firmly established for over 20 years.

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

It is probably a boring answer but I found work and, in particular, project work difficult during the pandemic lockdowns, with health, financial and resource pressures affecting everyone, plus dealing with implementing new ways of working almost immediately.

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

The siloed nature of the industry is detrimental to everyone. The best results come from everyone pulling together in the same direction.

What is the most helpful advice that you have been given?

Be honest with yourself.


Source: Shutterstock

The Chrysler Building in Manhattan. At 1,046ft, it is the tallest brick building in the world with a steel framework

Name your favourite building in the world?

I like art deco generally so, for me, the Chrysler Building in New York.

Which famous building do you most dislike?

The cultural centre on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. A pink-tiled box that really does not make use of its fantastic setting overlooking Hong Kong island.

Which famous building do you wish you had worked on?

I don’t really think there is a single famous building as such, but being interested in sport, working on a new state-of-the-art stadium, such as the redeveloped Tottenham Hotspur stadium would be very interesting.

Tottenham Populous

The redeveloped Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in north London

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

Try to get on with people, maintain your integrity and dignity.

Who do you most admire in the construction industry?

At the moment I would say those who have been brave and are already committed to net zero and sustainability. Most people in property and construction have to do better with re-use and low carbon building although d there are more and more good examples of success – Eden in Salford and the NE Space and Technology Centre in Newcastle.

What is it like being you (and doing your job)?

Busy. The job is extremely varied, managing a team working across various sectors delivering multiple services.

Do you have a life philosophy?

Not really. I try not to take anything too seriously and to enjoy myself.

What do you think your best quality is?

I am quite determined and don’t give up easily.

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

I’m not the best at losing. I dislike dishonesty or people being unnecessarily rude.

Name three things that you like

Music, holidays and live sport.

Tell us about a secret skill that we don’t know you have

I did a little bit of DJ-ing in an earlier life so I can mix records on turntables, or these days on the digital versions – this is now very much limited to the odd kitchen disco!

What is your most prized possession?

A watch my mum bought me for my 18th birthday. It has way more personal than financial value.

Early bird or night owl?

Both, though my ability to be a night owl and then an early bird is diminishing with age!

What is your favourite food?


What would your superpower be?

The ability to fly would be pretty cool.