Constructing a Niche: How an MBA Friendship Inspired our Collaboration

A photo of Mark and Myles

In January 2021 the Research and Innovation Services at the University of Kent launched the Recovery Innovation Fund, this fund aims to support businesses to innovate and grow by facilitating knowledge exchange via academic collaborations.  

Construction Management experts Myles Brett and Mark Evans met whilst studying for an MBA in 2017. After graduating in 2019 they set up their partnership, CCM Construction Management Limited, a business whose remit is to offer pre-construction ‘sanity checks’ to construction projects, ensuring the right contractual and management arrangements are in place. They have applied for The Recovery Innovation Fund this year to launch a data analytics tool to measure construction delivery risks. 

“I embarked on an MBA with networking in mind,” explains Mark, a former investment banker who has worked in the property industry for the last 10 years. “Kent Business School has an atmosphere of entrepreneurship, and many MBA students are self-employed. My view was to meet people with different but overlapping skills and to work innovatively.” Myles, a chartered construction manager specialised in the commercial aspect of project delivery, became friends with Mark on the course as the pair worked together on many projects and presentations.

“I started the MBA with to gain the skills to move to a directorship level in existing companies,” says Myles. “Equally I realised I could take the experience and knowledge and put them into my own business.”

Both parties found the MBA was catalytic in developing business acumen and something that changed their insight.

“While it was an intense experience it was enjoyable,” says Myles. “With the MBA, I learned you have to change the way you work and learn to listen to other points of view. Having people from all over the world there, you have cultural differences too. The whole course was geared around opening your minds to global business practices and challenging us to think differently.”

With their shared interest and expertise in ‘the built environment’ the duo soon hit upon a business idea that filled a gap they knew existed within the building market.

“Myles kindly got me involved in some of his business projects, project managing work and the approach we were taking has become the basis for our longer-term business model,” says Mark. “There is a lack of accessibility to professional construction management services, particularly for getting the right contractual arrangements in place and managing risks effectively for smaller to mid-size project owners. We launched CCM Construction Management Ltd to do just that.”

The business partners have experienced success upon launch utilising their contacts and experience to attract clients from all over the Southeast, including handling contracts for high end residential, commercial and heritage projects from £0.5m – £5m.

“Large scale businesses will have contracts in place, but in the domestic market, it can be hit and miss,” explains Myles. “People want to be informed but sometimes don’t know where to start. We take them through the risks and look at the potential of putting arrangements into place to avoid these. This has included putting the contractual arrangements into place for a bespoke self-build project, planning and managing the work, advising on and avoiding key delivery risks.

Innovative Heights

While the pair are basking in the success of their collaborative thus far, it is with the help of the Recovery Innovation Fund that they wish to move up to innovative heights. The pair applied for the funding after working together with Dr Lina Simeonova, Lecturer in Operations at KBS and TIME member on a data analytics tool that measures the risks in construction projects and incorporate them into a model. The tool, which is almost completed, will provide a decision support system for project owners and quantitively define benefit for following a specific delivery path. They won funding in January 2021.

“The tool will output an optimum delivery route and provide the basis for further conversation for an appropriate project confidence measure or risk approach to be developed,” says Mark. “This is connected to concepts like the triple bottom line, where the time and money objectives of a project may also need to be balanced against metrics like Health and Safety or community deliverables.”

The construction management experts credit the MBA for helping them to develop this idea and giving them the confidence to push the boundaries in an industry they describe as ‘behind the curve’ in terms of innovation.

“This project came specifically from the Decision Making model within our MBA,” explains Mark. “We also utilise operational approaches that we learned about on the MBA.” 
“In general, the MBA boosted our professionalism which impacts everything you do,” adds Myles.

Once the project is complete, Mark and Myles want to develop the tool to connect to sustainability in procurement, wider feasibility and valuation methods. With a prototype in place, it may also become possible to build and back test future project data to continually improve and work on future projects in collaboration with the University.

“Our MBA helped us to focus on what is the key thing we deliver of value,” Myles continues. “That is the contractual arrangements, and this risk model will help deliver that in a robust and innovative way.”

Click here for more information on our Recovery Innovation Fund.

Visit The Kent MBA for more on our course.

See Construction Contract Specialists – CCM Construction Management Ltd (ccmconstructionmanagement.com) for more information on Mark and Myles’ business.

 

 

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