Looking back with Linda
Our Business Development Manager, Linda Maples decided to retire after a long and enjoyable career in construction. To mark the occasion we caught up with Linda to find out what she’s most enjoyed about working with Open and here is what she had to say.
What initially attracted you to join the Open team as a Business Development Manager?
During the interview process for my job at Open, everything about the business felt right to me. Open has this open and honest value set that just felt right to me as an individual. It was financially robust and seemed to go about its business the right way. Open had proper certifications, well-maintained ISO systems and office standards, and I felt it was a business I wanted to be aligned to. I also hugely liked Malcolm and Peter and I thought this was something I could really enjoy.
What have you enjoyed the most about working as a Business Development Manager?
I really enjoy meeting our clients and our potential clients too! I am totally energised by the whole meeting people experience and I can barely think of an occasion where I have not enjoyed a meeting. These meetings were made easy for me as I have always felt proud and passionate to represent Open Contracts and to show what a robust and brilliant business it is.
I often joked in the early days that we were London’s best kept contracting secret, but we are out there now and that gives me so much pleasure. I have also enjoyed the autonomy of just being able to get on with my job.
What has been your favourite project and why?
What’s been your most memorable moment during your time with Open?
The most memorable moment was on my first day at Open when I nearly had an accident in the office! At the time we were based in Flitcroft Street. This was an office located on the fifth floor of the building and the only access was up the stairs. On my first day, I was getting myself organised for the day, looking at my new computer and getting a feel for everything.
I then stood up from my desk and pushed the chair back with my knees to stand up, and then promptly changed my mind and sat back down again but there was no chair there! During my gentle push, the chair had travelled on the engineered wood floor and was now way over the other side of the office and I had sat down with a heavy bump on the floor! – I have never jumped up so quickly in all my life!
This event was witnessed by around five people, and I was absolutely mortified! Then as the embarrassment set in for what had happened, I kept thinking of what might have happened if I had injured myself! There was no way of getting a stretcher up those 65 stairs and I reckon a window would have needed to be removed to get me out on a stretcher! I still cringe when I think about it – what an impact on day one but we all had a good laugh!
What has changed about the industry since you joined as Business Development Director?
I am proud and delighted to report that Open now works with most of the London Building Consultancies. The last seven years have seen a huge rise in the use of social media. Seven years ago, people hardly commented on LinkedIn posts, and it was not used as it is today.
However, a totally unexpected offshoot of this has been the pleasure of seeing so many of my connections move onwards and upwards. I am always so impressed by the emerging young talent and am genuinely thrilled when I hear of them passing their APC exams and moving jobs to better their careers. It makes me smile!
What do you find most challenging about this industry?
There is always a challenge in construction, whether it is winning a tender, getting the job done on time or people that don’t do what they say they will. Also, COVID19 has been a massive challenge for everyone in construction, but by staying positive and embracing technology as Open Contracts have, is key to remain stable in unstable markets.
Do you have any advice for anyone aspiring to enter the construction industry?
It’s a busy and exciting industry right now and there are so many different career paths as construction is becoming busier still! I am really interested in property technology, sustainability and climate change which seems to be key right now.
But the reality is do something that interests you, engages you and most of all make you happy. I have had 44 years working and my best years have been the time that I have been passionate and happy in my work – I believe the saying is ‘find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work in a day in your life’ I guess it’s a utopia to aspire to!
What will you miss most about working as a Business Development Manager?
Everything, from the people, my workday structure, commuting to the city or my email pinging all the time (no not really)! But I am in a happy place and am really looking forward to having a more holistic, gentle life which will involve lots of travelling, Yoga, walking and Pilates. And of course, the odd long lunch!
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I never thought too much about this as I have chosen all the roles I have taken on. I’ve been a flight attendant back in my twenties to a Banker and Business Development Manager. But I really enjoy cooking, so maybe a chef, I love the smells of essential oils and perfumes – so maybe a Jo Malone oil blender, I enjoy looking at office space, so maybe an agency surveyor! It seems in retirement I may have some of these choices and it makes the future quite exciting.