Nick Coke
Project Management

Nick brings a diverse background to his role at K2 and that comes with a refreshing perspective. He leads the project management service and brings broad industry experience combined with technical construction expertise and a structured approach to project delivery.

He believes passionately in creating an environment where the project team all pull in the same direction and solve a project’s issues together. His favourite kind of project is one with significant challenges but one where, because of the collaborative will of the team, the outcome is successful.

What do you enjoy most about your role?
The best thing about working in this industry is seeing the finished product.   More than most industries there is something tangible and literally concrete about what we do and seeing the culmination of something that appeared initially as some rudimentary sketches is extremely fulfilling.  That fulfilment is magnified when you see the building occupied and used for the purpose it was designed for and how that can transform lives.

What would you change about the industry?
The notion that being the cheapest means it is the best.  In all forms of procurement, be it consultant, contractor or material, we should stop just going for the one that costs less.  As the saying goes – “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”.  We should be prepared to pay the right price for high quality delivery and then we will get what we need in terms of services.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
Pick up the phone.  Don’t think every problem can be solved by sending emails.

What motivates you?
I want to wake up with an excitement to come to work.  I want to know that the day ahead will pose new challenges and demands and I will potentially have to come up with fresh and innovative solutions.  There is nothing worse than a cut and paste day.

What are you most proud of?
Apart from the obvious family-related answers, my proudest moment was gaining my commission in the Army.  To get to the end of Sandhurst and realise that you are being entrusted to lead people into battle is a very sobering thought, both scary and incredibly life affirming.

What skills and experience do you bring to K2?
I have a very varied background from being in the Army to working for a political party.  I have worked in a variety of different construction sectors including defence and rail before coming into the buildings sector.  I therefore have the benefit of sometimes having a slightly different perspective on matters which can help in driving a solution

What’s the most helpful advice you were given?
I was on a very good course once where, in a class of about 90, the lecturer asked “who in this room is interested in politics?”  I think about 10 people put their hand up, of which I wasn’t one.  He then said that those who weren’t were idiots if they thought their career would get anywhere without them understanding the politics.  It made me realise that those people who were successful weren’t necessarily technically the best at their job but they had a better understanding of how to make the politics work to get the decision they needed.

What characteristics and skills do you look for in people?
I look for people who can manage people and problems. I want strong decision-making ability and a clarity of vision.  I want people to be self-motivated, focussed and possess strong communication skills.  If someone has these attributes then technical knowledge can follow; it is much harder the other way round.  Above all, however, I look for integrity – this includes the courage to tell unpalatable truths.

Do you have a favourite album, book, film?
Favourite album is probably the eponymous Stone Roses album – takes me back to university days and just makes me smile.

Favourite film is usually Withnail and I: atmospheric, anarchic and very funny.  Ironically Richard E Grant is apparently allergic to alcohol.

Favourite book is a difficult one but I always return to the Sherlock Holmes stories and find one that suits my mood.  “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” is a saying that quite often resonates in project management.