Journey to Director
An interview with Matthew Parsons, our Pre-Contracts Director
After nearly a decade of dedicated work with the company, Matthew Parsons has been promoted to the role of Pre-Contracts Director, a position he is more than ready to take on.
In a recent interview, Matt shared his thoughts and feelings on this exciting new chapter in his career as well as his vision for the future of the company.
Do you remember joining Open?
Of course, I do – it feels like it was yesterday! I remember I was dressed up like a car salesperson, trying to make a good impression at one of my first London job interviews, which was obviously for Open Contracts. I remember that I was greeted by Peter who straightforwardly asked me to take off my suit tie. Instantly I felt a huge relief, and I must have made a good impression as I’m still here!
What are you most proud of on your journey to Director?
There have been many moments when I’ve felt proud but I remember when we tendered and won our first large-scale office refurbishment – Salisbury House, a £3m project for Workspace Group – it was a massive accomplishment for a team of just 12 people and a very proud moment for all of us. Now we have the resources to deliver £8m plus projects, which is again an achievement to be very proud of.
In terms of my progression through the company, I started as a Pre-Contracts Estimator working closely with Peter, our Managing Director, in a very small team. At that time it was just Peter and me estimating and during these ten years I made my way as a Senior Estimator, then Pre-Contracts Manager and now as Pre-Contracts Director.
The pre-contracts team we’ve built in the last three years is a hardworking, collaborative, and fun team of five individuals committed to get the job done! It is exciting to see how much the company has grown these past few years, as now we are 22 driven and caring people, and I am immensely proud to be part of this team. Working with amazing clients and being able to tender and win spectacular and complex projects, and to deliver these at the highest standards is incredibly rewarding, as are the relationships we’ve built with our subcontractors and partners, and so on.
And how has your role changed after you became the Pre-Contracts Director?
More meetings [Matt laughs]. Apart from the obvious of having greater responsibility, I have a wider oversight of the day-to-day operation of the business, and a clear perspective now on where the business is heading and I’m delighted to be part of this exciting journey.
Can you describe Open Contracts in just three words?
Caring, collaborative and fun. But Open’s values stay at the core of everything we do. You must also be driven and imaginative to create the spectacular spaces we’ve been creating, and clear in the way we communicate with our clients and partners.
What’s changed with the company in the past ten years?
In the last ten years we’ve progressed from a company with a turnover of £4m to £18m. To be in this strong position as a business we had to expand our resources – including our team of subcontractors – without compromising our way of working or our values, of course. These strategic changes we’ve adopted have enabled us to price more complex and interesting tenders and to win many of these.
This month we reached 3,500 enquiries which shows business consistency and a strong background in this industry.
What do you think is the key to Open’s success in this industry?
The people! Having the right people, with the right attitude towards work is a very important factor, but also being efficient in the way we respond to the clients and subcontractors. We must be committed, again, if we don’t commit to pricing a tender and to give the detailed attention it needs, then it’s unlikely we’d win it.
What one rule do you live by whether it’s at work or at home?
I personally enjoy being in the office Monday to Friday, but the hybrid working style works well for some of our team members and it’s fantastic that we can promote work life balance as part of our business culture. I enjoy what I do very much, but I make sure that I stay committed to family and to my hobby which is running. I guess being committed to whatever I choose to do is a rule for me.
If you weren’t our Pre-Contracts Director, what other job do you think you would be doing now?
I believe that this path chose me or this is how it was meant to be, as I never considered being something else in life. I was one of those kids at school that never knew what they wanted to become when they were asked by the teacher. I was enough lucky to be brought into this world, but I would not be where I am now if I hadn’t been committed to my work, focused on achieving targets, learning, and understanding how this industry works.
Tell us a bit more about your hobby – running – and how you prepare for it?
I am most definitely a running addict. Before running a marathon I will engross myself in a strict training programme, running up to five times per week, which can be difficult to balance with family and work time. My current marathon personal best is 3 hours 10 minutes but my target is to run that distance in under three hours. I recently completed a half marathon in 1 hour and 20 minutes so this would suggest I am on track! I raised more than £4.5k for The Rooprai Spinal Trust charity ahead of the London Marathon on October last year.
Tell us one lesson you’ve learned during your journey to Director?
Every job is a lesson, you know, but a big lesson I’ve learnt has been about managing people and how to get the best out of people because everyone is different. Acknowledging this helped me eliminate any bias and to build relationships with the people working with us, from our team to subcontractors and clients.