Jason Fretter

Q: What got you into the Construction / Property industry?

A: The honest answer is good fortune! I wanted to go into Banking when I left school, but a chance look in the window of a Job Centre while out shopping one day, led me to an interview for a Trainee Building Surveyor role in the NHS (which was oddly described by the Job Centre as a Trainee Draftsman) I got the job and never looked back.

Q: Did you qualify first or later?

A: Thanks to an excellent training scheme in the NHS (sadly now long since abandoned) I completed all my further and higher education part-time and my professional qualifications followed shortly – 9 years, start to finish, I might as well have done medicine! Whilst it was hard work and I had little free time, I do believe that the study/work balance gave me a real head start, in that I had both academic and practical experience. It certainly made the professional qualifications less daunting.

Q: Is your experience best measured in years or number of projects?

A: It’s still hard for me to believe that I’ve been working in the industry for over 25 years. The early years saw me dividing my time between Estate Management and Projects, the difference being in those days I used to design, procure and manage the projects. The last 10 years or so have been as a consultant Project Manager, where I’ve delivered a diverse range of projects from Mobile Telecommunication sites to Schools and Theatres. I think it is time that has given me the diversity of experience that I can now bring to each new project and continue the learning process.

Q: Have you specialised in any particular sectors?

A: I’ve always tried to shy away from being a specialist, although I have probably delivered more projects in Education and the Arts than in any other. For me it’s about bringing a fresh approach to each and every project, whatever sector it belongs to and using those transferrable experiences between sectors and projects to enhance the delivery.

Q: If you could have been involved in one project what would it be?

A: Like many British people, I was riveted to the 2012 London Olympics. Whilst there were some superb venues used throughout the games, any one of which I’d have loved to have been involved in, strangely maybe it was the opening ceremony that I thought was one of the greatest achievements. Whilst it was essentially a performance, it was also in many ways an engineering project and a construction project and I think the management of all of the facets of that ceremony would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity, that I’d have loved to share.

Q: At what aspects of the role do you excel?

A: Excel is an interesting word! I guess for me it’s in the people. I love a challenge and when it comes to complex projects with multiple stakeholders, it becomes something of a logic puzzle to assess all of the various concerns, drivers and ‘angles’ of the parties and try to rearrange and reassemble them to become a cohesive force. When I think of this process I’m often reminded of one of my favourite phrases “…. it’s akin to herding cats”

Q: What is the most exciting bit of delivering projects?

A: A successful outcome. I really enjoy the period after the project is complete and people start to use the facility. I like to listen to their comments (especially if they don’t know I was involved in the project as they tend to be more honest) I like the fact that no matter how many challenges the project team faced to get to that point, it’s very rarely reflected in the building and there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing what goes into delivering a successful project.

Q: What does ‘together we can…’ mean to you?

A: I’ve always found the best way for me to assist clients in delivering projects is to immerse myself in their business and effectively become an extension of their organisation. If you’re on the inside looking out, so to speak, you have a better understanding of their needs, desires, requirements and critical success factors and can therefore direct the project to deliver these more effectively. It’s essentially the same with the project teams, I don’t sit back and wait for them to “do their thing”; I like to roll up my sleeves and get into the detail.

Q: If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

A: Something I never even thought about when I might have been in a position to do something about it – medicine. I’m fascinated by the human body, how it works, what goes wrong and how it repairs itself (sometimes with the assistance of medicine) and I suspect saving lives is probably the most rewarding career there is.

Q: When not working where would you be found?

A: Usually out around the country lanes of South Warwickshire, either pounding tarmac in my trainers, or on my bike. It not only affords me that bit of escapism from the day to day reality of life, but it helps to offset my love of good food and great wine!

Q: What’s tunes would your personal radio station play?

A: Depends on the time of day. If I’m running it’s dance music as I love the beats. At home I have a pretty eclectic taste, everything from Queen to Muse and most things in between.

Q: What can’t you live without?

A: When thinking about this my first thought was to technology – my phone or my kindle, but in the great scheme of things they’re more recent. The one thing I really couldn’t live without and which has been constant since I was in my teens is music. In the house, the car on my ipod, I have music in the background for most of my waking life.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone?

A: Listen more and speak less.