Employer: Willmott Dixon

Project: St Matthew's Church of England Primary & Nursery, Plymouth

On his first job as lead manager, Mark Wolverson delivered considerable success on this three-storey school new-build by borrowing best practice from the housing sector. He implemented the line-of-balance programming common in residential by splitting his project into zones. It allowed activities to be efficiently sequenced and more even periods of subcontractor work offered to ensure consistency and quality of output.

The lean approach served Mark and the project well. He handed over seven weeks early on a 46-week programme with zero defects at handover

After losing a fortnight because of frame procurement delay, he reclaimed the time by splitting the building into three zones to allow for just-in-time working. The frame contractor installed the decking sheets, followed closely by the scaffolders back-propping the floors. Immediately after that came the ground workers with mesh reinforcement and the concrete pour. The strategy ensured work continuity for the three trades and allowed sufficient curing time for the frame concrete before work started on the next floor.

Then, when the top floor was watertight, Mark could have flooded the building with trades in all areas working at top speed. He didn’t. Instead, he ensured no subcontractor ran out of work after a few helter-skelter weeks by insisting they all stuck to his programme. He successfully focused the trades on quality and snagging at hold points before allowing them to move on.

Mark combined this very modern approach with a calm management style that focused as much on the end-user as it did on the client. He listened to end-user concerns and offered flexibility on decision-making. By being genuinely concerned about delivering satisfaction to a broad group of stakeholders, he resolved end-user issues while always respecting the client’s red lines.