Matthew Dunn tells Building about restoring listed buildings, the Shard, and a vintage American watch.
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
Successfully merging my previous business Bond Davidson with Paragon to create a £22m-turnover building and project consultancy employing 200 people.
What one thing would you change about the industry?
The payment of contractors and consultants remains frustratingly slow. Too much time, too much energy and too many headaches are incurred in the process of trying to get paid.
Why did you choose construction as a career?
The design and construction process has always fascinated me. I nearly applied to do architecture at university, but at the last minute I switched to quantity surveying.
What are you most proud of working on?
Restoring a number of London’s grade I and II*-listed buildings to their former glory for future generations to enjoy.
What’s the most helpful advice you have been given?
From my father: “The harder you work, the luckier you’ll be.”
What’s your favourite building in the world?
It has to be one in London – the city in which I love to work. Despite my passion for old buildings, it would be the Shard, which is a breathtaking landmark building in so many ways.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your profession?
The only person in charge of your career is you – and you will only get out what you put in. So don’t let yourself down or blame others if things don’t go to plan.
What famous building do you wish you’d worked on?
St Paul’s Cathedral – perhaps London’s most iconic building. I am lucky to be able to see this and the Shard from my London office.
Which famous building do you most dislike?
Again sticking with London, it would be the MI6 building. I used to commute past it every day and I am afraid, no matter how much I tried, it just never grew on me.
What is your best quality?
I am a good listener and strategic thinker.
What trait do you most dislike in yourself?
Not prioritising enough time for me and my family, although I am a lot better at it now than I was earlier in my career.
And in other people?
Do you have a life philosophy?
Other than work hard, play hard, which is over-quoted, treat others as you would like to be treated. Also, leadership is a responsibility not a title to be obtained.
Name three things that you like:
A long walk by the sea. A good glass of wine. An open fire.
What’s your secret skill?
I can fix almost anything – ask my family.
And most prized possession?
A vintage American watch owned by my grandfather and father.
What’s your favourite food?
A good roast dinner surrounded by family and friends.
What would your superpower be?
Making people smile.