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Silver winner

Employer: Farrans Construction

Project: Phase 2 - Harris Academy, Tottenham (HATO)

Arriving as project manager six weeks before the end of phase 1 of this refurbishment and new-build contract, Mel McMahon rescued a scheme that had not covered itself in glory.

His phase 2 leadership then won construction laurels. His value engineering saved the client £170,000, and he stormed through phase 2 to complete 11 weeks early. He thoroughly restored the relationship with the client, which awarded an additional £6m scheme on the back of his leadership.

At the age of four, Mel McMahon fell in love with construction when he got his first Lego set for Christmas. But while the passion has never soured for him, his client for phase 2 of this refurbishment and new-build school project felt very differently.

Mel arrived as project manager six weeks before the end of phase 1 to rescue a scheme that had not covered itself in glory. The project was four weeks behind schedule, team relationships had broken down with managers refusing to speak to each other, and work sequencing was disjointed (carpets were being installed in one room while plasterboarding was under way in the next). The relationship with a key client was not the best.

His remedies for phase 1’s ills provided the perfect platform for phase 2. Mel got the project back on track by introducing evening working, and adding supply chain resource. He restructured the site team and issued a recovery programme that targeted the areas that were furthest behind and ultimately achieved timely handover.

With phase 1 secured, he stormed through phase 2. His value engineering saved the client £170,000. His initiatives included substituting mobile cranes for a tower crane, and cutting heavy prelim costs by wrapping multiple works into one subcontractor package. It completed 11 weeks early.

Equally effective was his revised treatment of asbestos hotspots in the ground of the new build. He redesigned the substructure to eliminate ground beams, creating a flat slab linked to the pile caps that avoided disturbing the buried asbestos. Given the criticality of section completion dates for the client, he absorbed £700,000 of variations within the original programme.

His early delivery of a complex project within a live environment with zero defects and snags, combined with his determination to keep stakeholder communication lines open and to respond promptly to queries, fully restored the client relationship. On the foundations of his leadership, the client has offered Farrans an additional £6m scheme.