James Grant
Head of ESG and Corporate Relations

What do you enjoy most about the industry?

This is twofold, I guess. Firstly, it’s definitely the variety of projects we’re involved in. From the jaw-droppingly mammoth to the more ‘normal’ developments, there are always challenges to solve and opportunities to maximise.

Secondly, it’s being able to make a difference to the communities in which we work. To be able to inspire the workforce of the future through school engagements, support local charities and community groups, employ local people, or to placing a bias to use the local supply chain, the ability to create a positive legacy is truly rewarding.

 

How did you get into construction?

It’s certainly not been a traditional route, very convoluted in fact, but not a route I would go back and change. I studied hospitality management at university and worked operationally within major hotels for 12 or so years. I progressed into sales & marketing as I was fed up working so many late nights and every weekend, I needed a social life again.

A few twists of fate led me into the world of airports and then to the local Combined Authority, heading up external communications. As part of my previous role, I managed communications for Teesworks, the UK’s largest development opportunity. It was so exciting seeing major investments take shape that it gave me the urge to get back into the private sector and to play a part in that journey. It truly excites me to witness how the projects, that I’m now integral to, will make such a massive difference to the communities in which I’ve worked and lived for so many years. It’s certainly an industry I now recommend to anyone that’ll listen!

 

 

Do you have a favourite building?

I’m not sure I have a favourite building, but I’m now recognised within my family as having a top ten of bridges. I am fascinated by the engineering and design that goes in to constructing these huge structures, that often belie their integrity. I won’t list my top ten here but ones that I do see most frequently or ones that I’d like to visit include Edinburgh’s Queensferry Crossing, the Flintshire Bridge, Deeside, the Millau Viaduct, London’s Tower Bridge and, of course, the Transporter on Teesside.

 

What’s your best career advice?

Don’t be too worried about thinking you may be stuck in a certain industry. Go and try what you’d like to do, don’t be scared of failure, be positive, embrace it. The skills and knowledge that you learn throughout life and the different jobs you experience will set you up in a position you’d possibly never thought you’d end up in. From running a 4*boutique hotel to heading up ESG within the construction industry – I’m a prime example.