Celebrating 6 years with Open
This month our Pre-Contracts Manager Les Turton celebrates six years as part of the Open team.
To mark this milestone, we caught up with Les earlier this week to re-cap some of his most memorable moments to date.
Les, how did you start your construction career?
I started my construction career on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme), which was a year long apprenticeship backed by the government, before joining Concept 70, a specialist shop fitting company in Basildon, where I was carrying out retail store projects for Selfridges and Harrods among others.
Training young people and helping them acquire new skills is highly rewarding and at Open we offer work experience to people who are thinking about a construction career.
Generally they are with us for three days, and I normally get them to shadow me for a morning of site meetings, visits to see completed projects and an opportunity to meet the client, then an afternoon running through the processes from tender, procurement to valuations and financial management.
What is a typical day at work for you?
A typical day for me? Well, it’s quite a challenge to pinpoint, as the diverse projects I handle bring immense variety into my routine. I usually start my work day bright and early at 7:30 a.m., wrapping up around the 5 p.m. mark.
A significant portion of my day is often dedicated to site visits where I oversee the projects I’m actively involved with. During these visits, I liaise closely with our subcontractors to monitor progress, negotiate prices, and ensure everything aligns with our exacting standards.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt as a Pre-Construction Manager?
There have been numerous challenges in my construction career, from embracing evolving work methods – particularly with the prominent shift towards technological systems – to managing diverse teams.
However, one principle that remains a timeless cornerstone for me is effective communication; ensuring responsive, clear, and consistent communication with both on-site teams and clients has proven to be a decisive factor in the successful completion of many projects and it’s a golden rule that I’ve always followed.
What has been your favourite project to date?
Throughout my construction career, I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to at least 50 diverse projects. However, the one that holds a special place in my heart is the Playtech project, a unique design-and-build scheme spanning three floors in High Holborn.
This project was quite a departure from our usual work, a venture into uncharted territory that stimulated both professional growth and innovation. Over the course of 26 weeks, we not only brought to life a design unlike anything we had ever created before but also received considerable praise from our client, who gave us fantastic feedback.
What is the key factor in delivering a successful project when you’re working on several at the same time?
Balancing the determination and commitment necessary to meet project deadlines, while upholding the high quality of the finished product, is a non-negotiable commitment here at Open. We pour in our collective effort and work hard to achieve this delicate balance, making sure we stay focused on our mission to deliver excellence in a timely fashion.
Are you a perfectionist at work and what drives you to be one?
While I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a perfectionist, I do possess a keen eye for detail. The meticulous work I undertake, particularly when managing costs and variations in my spreadsheets, requires a high degree of precision and tends to be a winning factor in our projects.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Undoubtedly, building robust relationships with our subcontracting team – all highly skilled and proactive individuals who understand the complexities of project execution – is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work.
Then, there are those precious moments when I stop and take a step back to admire the remarkable transformation we’ve brought to a space. Whether it’s creating a spectacular office space or transforming an impressive building, these moments provide a sense of accomplishment like no other.
What’s your advice for someone looking for a career in construction as a Pre-contracts Manager?
Get to know who you’re working with, know your subcontractors well, be respectful and appreciate everyone’s time and work, and go on site to see how are things done. This practice helps understand materials, lead times and the people you’re working with.
Who is Les when he is not at work?
I have an allotment with my partner Bridget and I enjoy spending my evenings there, growing different vegetables and fruit. I grow a variety of produce from potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower to beans, sweetcorn, onions, and berries. It might be a little underrated as a hobby but the feeling you get when you’re eating something you’ve grown yourself is fantastic.
What’s been your most memorable moment during your time with Open?
There have been plenty of memorable moments to date, but probably when one of the projects I’ve worked on for months has won an award – that gives me a real sense of achievement.
And your funniest memory?
There are lots of them, but none that I can talk about here (Les laughs).
Finally, how would you describe the workplace culture at Open?
We’re fortunate to work with a wonderfully diverse team that balances professionalism with a healthy dose of humour – there’s never a dull moment in our office – and, despite the varying roles and demanding schedules, we’ve cultivated a nurturing environment that means we really do look out for each other.