Paul Allen
Cost Management

As Head of Cost & Commercial Management, Paul’s brand of construction cost management is inspired by the philosophy of construction management and is rooted deep in its history. By blending traditional quantity surveying with the behaviours and practices of construction management, and current and emerging thinking from the management consulting profession, Paul is able to make a real difference to his clients and their projects.

How did you get into construction?
A careers advisor. It wasn’t the best experience, but I was told to sit at a computer and answer about 100 questions as accurately and narrowly as possible to generate a shortlist of options. The computer generated three options – being a footwear designer, quantity surveyor or the SAS. Upon review of the three options, I decided that quantity surveyor was the most appealing option and the careers advisor put me in touch with the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust. Despite not being convinced by the process l am passionate about working in cost management and think the construction industry has been a fantastic place to make a living. That said, I recently watched Abstract: The Art of Design | Tinker Hatfield: Footwear Design on Netflix which did get me thinking!

What’s your favourite kind of project?
I think this is less about the ‘what’ and more about the ‘how’. So, not what service or sector, but more about how we tailor the approach to the client’s business model and how we then assemble the team, design, procure, contract and the continuous learning in execution and delivery.

What are your inspirations?
Where some people may struggle to find one, I  have many who have inspired my efforts to date, but perhaps given my interest, a top ten in construction management:

Carl Morse, Sir Peter Trench, Richard Halpern, Harold Schiff, Peter Lehrer, Gene McGovern, Sir Frank Lampl, Sir Stuart Lipton, Peter Rogers and Ian Macpherson.

Do you have a favourite building?
I’m interested in the integrity of a building’s construction. Engineering isn’t something that you just use to hold things up or to service a space. It’s actually something that can contribute to the architecture, so I’m a big fan of inside-out buildings or high-tech architecture. Favourites include the Leadenhall Building (Cheesegrater), the Millennium Dome, Pompidou Centre and the Lloyd’s Building.

I’m mindful that all of those buildings were in fact designed by Richard Rogers. Perhaps it’s the colour, structure and movement, with the help of some enlightened clients and some rather brilliant and imaginative engineers putting concept before calculation. That said, there have been so many others that have inspired, but the work of Sir Nicholas Grimshaw perhaps deserves special mention for pushing the boundaries of construction with innovations in the process of construction, materials science and sustainability – examples of which include the Eden Project, Park Road Apartments and the Service Tower for Student Housing now sadly demolished.

Do you have a favourite book?
I never read books at school or college, but had a lecturer at university by the name of Andy Atkinson who helped me find a love of learning and reading. When I got to Davis Langdon we were encouraged to read a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins which I thought was just fantastic.

What’s your best career advice?
Three lines from Baz Luhrmann’s 1997 Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen):

Don’t worry about the future or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.