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Tips from the top

Afirm is only as good as the people it employs. The Contractors File finds out more about five head men.

Name: Dr Simon Frain

Age: 42

Job title: Chief executive Wrekin Construction

First job: Surgical House Officer - Withington Hospital, Manchester

Name: Denis MacDaidAge: 55

Job title: Managing director, Taylor Woodrow Construction

First job: Fishing salmon at the age of 15.

Who do you most admire in the world of business today?

Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Computers. Dragged the company from the jaws of bankrupcy by applying simplicity of purpose and the highest quality of design.

Warren Buffet.

Of which of your company's projects are you most proud and why?

Nene Whitewater Centre and the Eighth Earl Spencer Centre for Young People. A pumped water canoe slalom, designed and built from first principles, with a fixed budget, difficult ground conditions, bad weather and a fantastic team of people who moved mountains to achieve both a tight program and an even tighter budget. It was a very satisfying example of risk and value engineering at its best.

Royal Oman Police Marine Base, Sidab, Oman. My first job as project manager.

Which of your projects would you most like to forget?

Each project, no matter how well it went, will have valuable lessons to be learned and should not be forgotten.

Hoboken Water Treatment Plant, New Jersey, USA.

What is the highest compliment you have ever been paid.

Any compliment paid to Wrekin Construction and its people.

'I paid you too much, Denis' - Micky Steinberg, Walt Disney Imagineering.

What makes a good leader?

Facilitating the development of people's full potential and listening to them while it happens.

The ability to get people to do what they don't want to do and like it. That's a quote from Harry S Truman, which I always liked.

What is your top time saving tip?

Make sure you only do things once by planning carefully what you do before you start and getting it right.

Get good people you can trust.

What advice would you give someone starting out in their career today?

Find somewhere to work where your contribution will be valued and nurtured; somewhere that believes in the development of individuals and will deliver. Work as hard as you can and take all your holidays.

Watch and learn from those who are good with their people.

Where would you like the company to be in five years' time and what hurdles will you have to clear to get there?

Still undertaking civil engineering works of all sizes for whoever values the level of service we provide, among a portfolio of construction related services.

The hurdle is to remind clients that size is not everything. It is the quality of service and the final cost which counts.

Double its current size in terms of volume and treble in terms of value. The hurdles will be the difficulty in keeping the focus on value enhancing profit streams and away from the comfort zones which we all drop into.

Who would you most like to have dinner with and why?

My wife, every night - it would mean that we were back from work on time and had persuaded the children to go to bed. It doesn't happen often.

Vlademir Putin to explain why I think Russia has such potential for construction and how I believe Russia can become the next America.

Do you think civil engineers are underpaid, and if so what can you do about it?

If civil engineers seek alternative careers then we are not paying them enough. If we are happy to take chances by employing under-qualified staff then the industry is paying enough! It is nothing to do with the 'image' of the construction industry. It is to do with risk.

No. Market forces drive pay. The good ones always succeed in getting well rewarded for what they do.

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