Neil Corbin celebrates 15 years as Project Manager with Open
How did you start your career as Project Manager?
I started as a general site labourer at the age of 21 and moved into bathroom fitting at 23 before joining Open Contracts as a trainee Project Manager at the age of 26.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
No day is the same which is what I love about the job, one day I can be on an industrial estate somewhere in the south and the next day doing a tour of my London sites. I’m usually up early with a strong coffee to get me ready for the day.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt as a Project Manager?
Always consider things from another perspective and take everyone’s views on board. Once you have a balanced view you will find the right approach to overcome challenges.
What has been your favourite project, and how many have you completed in 15 years?
I have lost count of the number of projects over the years, but my favourite project must be the Cat B fit-out we completed for Playtech back in 2018. At the time it was the largest project Open had won and being involved in the project from its inception at the design stage right through to completion is something I’m very proud of.
Do you remember your first project?
I do, it was a warehouse refurbishment in St Albans and at the time I found it quite daunting going from being on-site working to running the whole project. There was a lot of learning on the job, but it was a great feeling receiving practical completion.
What is the key factor in delivering a successful project when you’re working on multiple projects at the same time?
Being organised and having a great team around you is key to managing multiple projects. I don’t think there is any single key factor for delivering a successful project as they all come with different challenges however I have found that if you identify the risks early in the project and focus on finding solutions it usually leads to a successful project.
Are you a perfectionist at work and what drives you to be one?
Yes, and I’m the same at home (which drives my wife crazy sometimes). I think it’s just part of my makeup – do it right or don’t do it at all.
What do you enjoy the most about your role?
Details, whether that be collaborating with multiple trades to ensure the initial coordination and setting out is done correctly, or the finishing touches exceed expectation – the last 5% of a project is always the hardest.
How do you define great project management and what’s your advice for someone looking for a career as a PM in construction?
I don’t think you can define it as there are many different styles of project management, you have to find the fit that’s right for you. As for advice for the next generation, I’d say get on-site, get your hands dirty and learn as much as you can, it’s all good experience and I think it’s been invaluable to me over the years.
Who is Neil when he is not at work?
I’m a big Tottenham fan (I blame my Grandad) and get to games as much as I can. I’m also a dad to two young boys who keep me very busy.