A lesson in Premier League project management

“Never rely on hope,” was the message from Sewell Construction Project Manager Martin Standley as he delivered a step by step guide in Premier League project management.

Martin spoke on the final day of Humber Business Week 2016 in his event, The Simple Art of Making a Cup of Tea, at Hull University Business School.

He has worked for Sewell since 1985 when he started as an apprentice bricklayer on £26.25 per week, travelling from Withernsea to Hull each day.

After leaving for four years, he re-joined the business as a manager in 1994 and has since become the man behind Hull’s Orchard Centre and Thomas Ferens Academy.

Martin, who is currently leading the Sewell Construction team in delivering the £30 million student residences on behalf of the University of Hull, shared his project management and leadership learning, likening it to making a cup of tea.

He asked the audience to talk through the steps of creating the perfect brew, highlighting how each step is fundamental is travelling from A to B and fulfilling what you set out to do for clients.

Martin said: “How do we get more for less?

“Quite simply, it’s about getting from A to B. If we left it to chance, in construction, our building projects would descend into chaos.

“To give ourselves the best chance of getting it right, it’s important to establish what we agreed to on day one.”

Martin stressed the importance of communication, marginal gains and how small changes see great results in the long term.

He said: “The best form of communication is a ‘whites of their eyes’ discussion.

“When we are up against it, we need people to be in the right frame of mind and be positive.”

Martin told how he always made sure he spoke to the security guard on a project he worked on, as that lifted his spirits, which had a knock-on effect for staff arriving at work.

“The leader of the project sets the pace and the tone for the team,” he said.

“Doing more for less is not about doubling your time at work.

“It’s about smarter thinking and creating efficiencies by using better and slicker methods.

“It’s about giving it your best shot and asking yourself what more could you have done.”

Involving the audience and asking for their thoughts throughout the event, Martin invited questions following his presentation.

His parting words left a lasting impression on those who attended.

Martin said: “Never rely on hope. If you do all you can to ensure something happens, you can sleep soundly.

“But if you forget to ring the company about the bricks, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

“Whatever is in your control, do all you can. What’s out of your control, don’t worry too much about.”