Dan Smith low res-8

How did you get into this industry?

“I started off as a site engineer and after a winter working outside in the snow, I decided that wasn’t going to be the right line of work for me. I then got an HND in Quantity Surveying from Nottingham Trent University and began my career as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor.”

What has been your career path so far?

“The first 15 years of my career were more focused on schools and government work.  I also worked on some cut & carve and fit-out projects, including supermarkets and offices.

After a few years as a Quantity Surveyor, I became Principal Surveyor and had the opportunity to run the biggest job ever done by the company I was working for, Harringay Sixth Form Centre worth £25 million.  Then I moved on to become Commercial Manager somewhere else, where I was running four or five jobs at once.

In my next role, I became responsible for £50 million of turnover. The work was across a variety of sectors, including offices and education.

I later moved into high-end fit-out, working on a residential project in South Audley Street, Chanel’s head office in London and penthouses in Holland Park, among many others.”

Tell us about your BECK journey.

“I joined BECK four years ago continuing my journey in high-end fit-out works. I started as Senior Commercial Manager on The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, an incredibly prestigious project which has created one of the most luxurious hotels in London.

I then went on to become Project Commercial Director for one of our current projects, creating the first Six Senses hotel in the UK. This will be part of The Whiteley in Bayswater, which is being transformed.”

How has your role changed now you are Surveying Director?

“The biggest difference is that I have oversight across the whole business as opposed to only specific projects. I’m responsible for several teams — they can call on me when they need advice.

I’m reviewing our commercial procedures and processes, as we are always looking to streamline and improve the way we work to stay at the top of our game. I’m also working with the teams on profit plans to give us a robust way of foreseeing our financial future.

I’m enjoying assisting the teams to get where they want to go and offering guidance to those who are earlier in their careers. I want our teams to be empowered and confident to make decisions. Everyone has an opinion, and they should be free to say what they think. Otherwise, businesses end up with two or three people at the top who believe something should be done a certain way but when we roll it out it doesn’t quite work. It’s essential to have everyone’s input from the ground up.”

What is your philosophy as a manager of people?

“I try to be very fair and honest. Working in this industry can be intense, partly due to the speed of the programme, the size of the projects we work on and the extremely high quality we deliver as a business.

At the Six Senses hotel, we are creating 109 rooms and the marker of BECK’s quality is to never have one bad room. There were 180 rooms at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah and you would struggle to find a bad room. That’s the attention to detail our teams provide and the level of quality they produce.”

Finally, do you have any advice for a young person looking to get into this industry? 

“It’s great if young people can get into a company who will sponsor them. We have people at BECK whom we are sponsoring through their training. You can see them developing and growing so quickly. We have a young man who came straight from school and had never worked on a building site before. He has developed so much over his first 12 months; he’s now running packages and stepping up — it’s great! If you want it, you can go out and get it.”