A Coffee & a Chat with James Harkins – Business Development Manager

The most recent addition to the Worksmart team, James Harkins is our Business Development Manager. We sat down with him in order to get to know him a little better.

Hi James, how are you today?

I’m very well thanks. Firstly, I’m James, it’s great to meet you all!

Could you describe your role and the responsibilities you have within Worksmart?

Of course I can. My role within Worksmart is Business Development Manager and it’s my responsibility is to develop new business relationships and seek out fresh and exciting opportunities for Worksmart that perhaps haven’t previously been explored.

We feel the concentration must be on relationship building and reassuring our clients and their design teams that we are focused and reliable and will deliver their projects on time, on budget and to the quality which sets them in the standing which they deserve.

You’ve recently joined the Worksmart Team. How has it been so far? I hope no one is giving you a hard time for being the new guy!

It’s been excellent. All the team have been great and have taken the time to make me feel welcome. There’s always a bit of nervousness when starting a new job but everyone I’ve met so far has been really helpful and any nerves have long eased off. It’s been refreshing to see such a strong management team and a structure where departments can easily interact and flow together.

A lot of time has obviously been spent in the dynamics of how the departments function and how they work together to ensure clients and their design teams get the best service from Worksmart.

So far, I have been based in the Kilmarnock Office, but I’m heading to the Edinburgh office this week to meet the teams and then onto other areas to do the same. It’s great to be able to call on support and expertise from various different locations.

And no, thankfully there’s been no ‘hazing of the new guy’… thus far!

How did joining Worksmart come about? What did you know of the company beforehand?

I had engaged with the Managing Director relating to services my former employer offered, that conversation was very productive and from there things progressed. I went through a scrupulous selection process that involved interviews and various other presentations. This impressed me as it showed the management team were focused on finding the best candidate for the role.

I had only heard positive things beforehand and for that reason I was open to the idea of joining Worksmart as it came across as a positive working environment to be in. I had obviously seen the Worksmart vans all over the country too. This, combined with the on-site setups and other marketing really caught my attention. Worksmart is an impressive brand.

In terms of career progression, where do you see yourself in five years?

I would like to be established as the head of Business Development and maybe get the opportunity to develop a sales team, engaging and qualifying potential new clients.

What’s your best piece of advice for a young person looking to get into your profession?

I would advise all young people looking to have a profession in construction to have a growth mindset and to always maintain a level of professionalism in the workplace. If you stick to these you will greatly increase your chances of success in this industry. Most importantly though, you have to want it and be willing to put the hard work in to achieve it!

Its been great to see and learn more about Worksmart’s Apprentice Joiner Programme, School Leaver Programme and brand-new Graduate Training Programme.

More companies need to assist in the development of their teams as we are in the midst of a skills shortage within many areas of construction.

When you’re not in the office, what do you like getting up to?

My family are my number one priority and I enjoy spending time with them. I’ve also been involved in Scottish football at varying levels over the years from playing to coaching to other associated jobs within the game.

I’m also a keen golfer and looking forward to getting my first Worksmart Golf Day under my belt with some clients and design teams. I have heard that our MD`s favourite number is “foooouuuuurrrrrr!”

If you could choose to do any other job in the world, what would it be and why?

My dream job would be to manage our national football team and get us to a major championship; 20 years is far too long!

Laying the Foundations – Gary Roberston, Operations Manager

This interview is designed to uncover the stories behind the people at Worksmart and their careers until this point. How you got to where you are today, essentially.

Gary, thanks for sitting down to answer a few questions today! Hope we haven’t caught you on a busy day?

Most days are quite busy to be honest… I don’t mind sparing a few minutes for a quick chat though.

How was your school life? Were you a good/bad student? Did you do as well as you could have in terms of grades?

School life for me was very sport orientated, I was very active in school, especially with football and squash. I wasn’t a particularly great student but academically I passed every exam that I studied for.

It’s difficult to say if I did as well as I could have done; probably not, as my main focus at school was sport. Every day I was either training or competing so even though it probably shouldn’t have been, sport was my number one priority back then.

Did construction appeal to you when you were young?

Sport was always my number one choice for a career, but after receiving a bad knee injury, any hopes I had of pursuing it as a career were dashed. When I was looking for a job it was very hard to get an apprenticeship in my area, so I knocked on every construction builder’s door until finally it paid off and I got an apprenticeship in joinery.

What were your next steps after high school?

I went straight into construction, through my apprenticeship. I was lucky that way. So many kids leave school not knowing what they want to do and with no structure. That’s why I’m so pleased when I see the apprentices coming through Worksmart. They’re given such a great opportunity and education and at Worksmart we’re helping so many people find a career; great careers too!

At that point could you have imagined yourself in the position you are now?

I was very fortunate that I came off the tools at aged 26 which is very early. I was involved in major refits, so I was working very close with the top management and that is when I decided that I wanted to progress. I think having that competitive edge in me from my sporting days helped me in that sense. I was always looking to improve and better myself.

What came before Worksmart professionally for you?

I was with Morris and Spottiswood working on Universities, retailers. I have worked on most sectors of the building trade, so I feel I have gained experience on all aspects of construction.

When did you first hear about Worksmart and what were your initial thoughts?

I had known about Worksmart for several years working in the fitout sector. What impressed me most was the professionalism and the high standard of work. You’d see a Worksmart job and everything would have been done to a better standard. Everything would be cleaner, more polished and that bit more impressive. For me, as someone that’s always trying to move up and progress, I saw Worksmart as the company I should be aspiring towards working for.

If you could go back and give 16-year-old you any advice, what would it be?

Don’t smash your knee! That would be my best advice! But also, work hard and always try to be better than you were yesterday. If you do that, and stay humble, you’ll get on OK in life.