Rod Stiles tells Building about the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, Roger Madelin and the Shard
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
Finding better ways to influence behaviours on sites to improve health and safety.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
I want to bring an end to meagre contractors margins – we allow new entrants too easily into the market with ”one man and his dog” resources and thin margins that do not support research and development investment or whole industry training. These companies chase turnover and cash to survive or to fund other more profitable investments. The industry is as strong as its weakest link and just one contractor breaking ranks gives the wrong example to clients.
Why did you choose construction as a career?
It is very tangible and rewarding – my father was an architect and he recognised my abilities were not in design so I entered the industry as a quantity surveyor and have carried out a number of different commercial, management and leadership roles since joining Bam 25 years ago.
What have you worked on that you’re most proud of?
Brindleyplace in Birmingham and King’s Cross – (I’ve been involved in about £1bn worth of projects there) and seven years delivering a wide range of health projects under the ProCure 22 health framework (Basildon, John Radcliffe – Oxford, Southampton General, and Portsmouth). About 10 years ago, when we started to embrace design for manufacture and assembly, I led the concept design and delivery of three 1,800-place secondary schools in Medway, all with different precast frames and brick facades.
Most helpful advice you have been given?
There’s no such thing as a stupid question. I tell this to new graduates and apprentices at their induction day.
What’s your favourite building in the world?
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, which was created from a grain silo complex. An incredible museum designed by Thomas Heatherwick.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in your profession?
This is a people industry, so find the good men and women to work with and for, have strong values and stick to your principles – you’ll lose a few battles but win the war – it’s still a small enough industry that reputations matter and you will feel proud you stood up for what was right.
Who do you most admire in the construction industry?
Roger Madelin – he pioneered partnering 30 years ago, has infectious enthusiasm, drive and empathy, and a vision for placemaking (Brindleyplace, King’s Cross, Canada Water)
What famous building do you wish you’d worked on?
Which famous building do you most dislike?
What’s it like being you?
You’re always looking to do better things, so look forward not back.
What do you think your best quality is?
Fairness, good ethics, drive, enthusiasm, positivity.
What trait do you most dislike in yourself? And in other people?
Impatience in myself and being disrespectful in others.
Do you have a life philosophy?
There is no limit to what you can achieve.
Name three things that you like?
Running, rugby, skiing.
What’s your secret skill?
I can snowboard.
What’s your most prized possession?
My wedding ring.
Early bird or night owl?
Early bird – I get up and go for a run with my dog.
What’s your favourite food?
What would your superpower be?