The big interview
Article posted on: 24th June 2021
On this very day, way back in 1991, Martyn stepped into the Bury office as a Chartered Structural Engineer for his first day at Clancy.
To celebrate this noteworthy milestone, from Chartered Engineer to reaching the heights of CEO, we sat Martyn down and asked him a few questions. Here’s ‘the big interview’…
So then Martyn, cast your mind back, can you recall your first day/week in the office?
Yes I can. Back then I reported to Alan Bramwell and he gave me one project in my first week which was on site in Whitefield, so about 10-minutes from the Bury office. It was for Willan Homes who we’d carried out a fair bit of work for previously. It was one of those problem jobs you get handed on Day 1. They were having difficulty finding competent ground for the foundations of a large residential dwelling, so I was asked to head over to site each day and just said “keep digging”. Bit of a metaphor for my career path perhaps??
Clancy was a completely different feel to the company I had just left and been entirely happy with for four years, however working in Bury was great for me. It was close to home and I could cycle to the office, particularly helpful with a young family at the time. It was nine years later that the team packed up and moved to the Altrincham office. Yippee, just love the M60!
Your proudest success, and the biggest challenge you’ve overcome, in the last 30-years
Professionally and personally, and, I’d say the key drivers that make me tick are camaraderie, friendship and collaboration. So, in terms of proudest success, that has to be gaining the respect and friendship of many at Clancy, including past as well as present along with many outside of Clancy. I am not naturally a ‘shout loud’ individual concerning myself but I am immensely proud of what Clancy stands for. Reaching CEO status is a self-achieved goal based upon peer recognition, which means a lot. More so, I like to think that I have played a significant part in seeing real collaboration and growing partnerships and, crucially, the culture at Clancy we are rightfully incredibly proud of. To see Clancy getting industry recognition is truly rewarding – whether it’s recognition from within, from our industry peers, or from the people we’ve known for many years has is the most valuable achievement of all.
There have been many challenges, some of which are better not mentioned! The pandemic has been a complete game changer but, in a bizarre way, it will stand out for me as being the ultimate test where we at Clancy ‘earned our stripes’. To see how everyone came together rising to an exceptional challenge has, for me, been immensely humbling. In a situation where everyone was placed in tough circumstances (both personally and professionally) yet to see support networks naturally, or by design, spring into action was and continues to be impressive on so many fronts. I’ve said it before but that was a massive effort by Team Clancy.
To me, this encompassed everything that Clancy stands for with absolutely everyone pushing and pulling in the right direction ultimately to arrive at where we are now, looking to pick up on the exciting and ambitions aspirations we set ourselves in our strategic planning pre-pandemic.
There was also the 2018 ride to the South of France in six days. Thought I’d pop that in the ‘success/challenge’ category and those that know me might forgive the indulgence. Ironically, I’d be trying to get ‘an in’ with a handful of the individuals on that trip for a good while. Let’s just say that six days in the saddle alongside each other, ideally sweeping though the rolling hills of France and then enjoying an evening of good food with a few glasses of red (but the reality was riding in torrential wind, cold and rain, physically drained, not touching a drop of alcohol and carb cramming) proved to be the most successful networking ever. Real and lasting relationships are built in adversity, it would seem.
Of all challenges that have come along it is, and always will be, the contribution of everyone that gets you through these. Fantastic colleagues at every level along with loyalty of established and trusted relationships make everything possible.
Your most memorable Clancy social related moments are…
I know it is a cliché, but to me, Clancy is a family with shared common goals. This is something I have looked to build upon and will continue to do so. We have inevitably, lost a little momentum over the last period which I think has made an impact on our ‘One Clancy’ vision but we will, with everyone’s resourcefulness bounce back, I have no doubt. Ensuring we have both social and professional engagement is a fundamental requirement for me.
There have been so many highlights from a social perspective including all the annual events and Christmas parties. I will be forever in debt to the holders of some photographs from some of these!
There was Clancy Bake-Off but I’m not one for fancy dress.
The annual cycling sportive has been a great flagship for the company and I’m delighted we are taking this to the next level with Clancy Active going national this year (albeit now slightly delayed) and rightfully taking this beyond just cyclists. Again, I like to think it sends a really positive message, both internally and externally on what we stand for.
Ultimately, I have great friends made during the last 30-years and I value this above most things.
One piece of advice you’d give to the next generation of engineers in the industry
It is a fantastic industry. If I could wind the clock back, would I have done anything different? – I don’t think so.
The opportunities for aspiring Engineers are immense. Technological advances both in terms of design and construction have, and will, continue to change the role of the Engineer. We really do have a massive commitment to shape the environment we work within.
On the subject of environment, the challenge faced globally on climate change is one that we are well placed to be influential in making a real contribution to. That will shape so much of what we do going forward and again, the Engineers starting out on their career can be more influential than ever.
In terms of specific advice, reach high to achieve heights you are truly capable of. I like to think at Clancy, we create a platform that all can spring from to achieve objectives, within a supportive environment.
I’m typical of someone who has come through the ranks at Clancy! On occasion, I do reflect on what shapes me/us. I conclude a key influence was my Mum, who sadly passed away at the start of the pandemic. She was of very humble origins, worked in a slipper factory, however over time she successfully completed a typing course, and slowly worked her way up to become a manager, then regional manager of Scope. She ended up managing 200 people across various tiers of the business and was constantly applauded, over 15-years in fact, for being the highest performing Regional Manager in the organisation. Her success was mainly down to her ability to build relationships and gaining respect (which worked both ways!). I often draw parallels there and am a big believer that conducting yourself well is a big part of achieving your ambitions. It’s also about grasping opportunities when they appear.
A little bird tells us you are celebrating your 30-year wedding anniversary, as well as 30-years at Clancy, in 2021. Tell us the secret of your home life/career success! Can you draw any similarities between the two?
I’ll have to be very careful here. Sadly, I tend to recall how long I’ve been married by remembering the year numbers at Clancy (slap number one!).
Seriously, family is vitally important to me, and so is work. Striking the work/life balance is fundamental. It is important to have highlights on all fronts and I like to think I have had a decent stab at that.
As for similarities between the two, that’s a tricky one. I do still work with a number of people that I did before we were married but could they have put up with me at such close quarters all these years? Perhaps/definitely not. I do say that the bike has been my saviour over the last 15-months, from a mental health perspective. Susan (yes, Mrs H) would probably say my absence because of the bike has been her saviour too.
As for the secret of success in work/home life, I guess it is about constant evolution of what you do in both spheres. Katy, our bid manager and marketing executive, actually reminded me of a birthday card I got Susan one year. I couldn’t believe a last-minute trip to Waterstones could upturn something so befitting. For me, the message works on various levels.
There are so many more adventures and achievements to be had, both in an out of work, so let’s get cracking on them! The appetite for both will hopefully be greater than ever after the last period.
Also, on the subject of anniversaries, there is also the not so small matter of our 50th in 2022. We intend to make a splash to mark the occasion, for sure.
We have a clear Business Plan to take us to 2025, but what would be the cherry on the cake from your perspective for us to achieve within this time frame?
We had brilliant momentum on loads of things the year before pandemic. We were looking to make positive change firmly aligned to where the industry was heading and ensuring our ‘people-focus’ was front and centre of our ambitions – this was a real driver for what we (the collective) wanted for the business. The Director team went on a strategy planning weekend back in 2019 and this formed a great launchpad. Unfortunately, for reasons well out of our control, this momentum was temporarily stolen from us. So, in terms of the cherry on the cake, I’d suggest we need to ensure the cake filling is getting back on track first and returning to the same momentum that we had pre-pandemic.
I guess the cherry on the cake will be to become the consulting engineer of choice by our clients, collaborators, current and future employees, really raising our stature, sitting comfortably alongside other industry leaders at the top table. Yes, we are incredibly pleased to achieve the 50-year milestone but we are very much looking ahead with excitement.
… and finally we trust you’ll still be attending Clancy Active in 30-years’ time?
Oh yes, two wheels + electricity, quite possibly!