The new firm’s sales director reflects on his time living and working in South Africa and the pain of seeing businesses fail. He also reveals his favourite building in the world 

Phil Sheldon, sales director, The Build Chain.jpg

Why did you choose construction as a career? 

Because there is lots of variety and plenty of different areas to grow in and achieve your ambitions. I wanted to sample lots of different sectors of the industry and found making relationships the most enjoyable aspect.

I joined The Build Chain as sales director at an exciting time for the company and am enjoying bringing my ideas and expansion plans to life. 

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

I’m really proud to have lived and worked in South Africa for four years during my career. Being immersed in a new country with a completely different culture was a turning point for me; I learnt so much from the experience and really benefitted long-term.  

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

Though I took a lot from the experience, moving to South Africa wasn’t without its challenges at the time. The environment and culture were a complete change, and it took time to get used to how different it was.  

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

It’s inevitable sometimes, but seeing a business fail or go bust at the expense of another is always hard to see.  

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

Treat people as you would like to be treated. It’s a simple one but definitely something I use in my day-to-day work and something I pass on to those just starting out. People always remember how you treat them so always be respectful, polite and friendly.  

La Sagrada Familia_shutterstock_98287820

A different view of a “5 minutes with” favourite: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Name your favourite building in the world? 

The Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The workmanship and the dedication to its restoration is really impressive.  

Which famous building do you most dislike? 

I’m not a fan of high-rise tower blocks from the 1960s and 70s. Though they serve a purpose, I find them quite brutal in appearance.  

Which famous building do you wish you had worked on? 

I’d loved to have been involved in the design and construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai – as the tallest building in the world it’s a true feat of engineering.  

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

Work hard and listen to the people that have been successful. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. 

Who do you most admire in the construction industry? 

It’s got to be Antoni Gaudi, the designer of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. His vision continues to delight visitors from all around the world.  

Burj Khalifa in downtown in Dubai


Another popular choice: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai

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

My job can be stressful at times, particularly as I constantly challenge myself. That being said, I enjoy rising to the challenge and feel I am making a great contribution in my role.  

Do you have a life philosophy? 

“The more I practise, the luckier I get.” 

What do you think your best quality is? 

Being a “people person” and my ability to build strong relationships. I enjoy getting to know people.  

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

In myself, being impatient. In others, having bad manners.  

Name three things that you like 

Spending time with friends and family; football; travelling. 

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

I have recently learnt to play the piano (grade 3). 

What is your most prized possession? 

The family home. 

Early bird or night owl? 

I’m a bit of both. 

What is your favourite food? 


What would your superpower be? 

To see into the future. 

The Build Chain, formerly known as NTUK, launched this month. It connects contractors with suppliers through an online procurement platform that makes the process of hiring equipment and buying materials easier