This self-made surveying guru lives life in the fast lane.
Chairman at Technics Group
Former President of The Survey Association
Founder & Director of StaySafe App
Graham founded Sitechnics in 1989 and also co-founded Subtechnics in 1999, a geospatial consultancy providing land surveying services.
They undertake over 800 projects every year to provide in-depth data and analysis at the start of a programme of construction works to minimise risk, including laser scanning, 3D modelling and underground utility survey mapping.
In a stellar career, he has worked with Heathrow, Crossrail, Wagamama, the NHS and Balfour Beatty to name a few.
He also developed Stay Safe, an award-winning smartphone app for lone workers anywhere in the world that tracks location in real time.
He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors and a former President of The Survey Association, the trade body for commercial survey companies in the UK.
Outside of work Graham enjoys spending time with his family, Formula 1, mountain biking, Lotus cars, track days and Le Mans.
Graham, Welcome to The Leadership Interview
How do you start the day?
A 3km jog around the park, trim trail, weights, stretching.
Then breakfast whilst reading BBC news website.
When was your first job and what is the worst job you’ve ever done?
When I was young we had little money so anything I wanted I had to earn and buy myself, therefore I had several jobs such as paper rounds, car washing and working on a farm.
My first proper job was at 17 years, as a trainee surveyor/site engineer. I went to college on a day release basis for five years.
What advice would you give to others about furthering their careers?
Find something that you are passionate about and you will never feel like you are working.
Be aware of how evolving technology will affect your sector and your job.
Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by people who are happy with what they do, what they have and who they are.
In business, I’m inspired by anyone who is self-made.
There are many pitfalls on the road to building a successful business so I admire people who have persisted.
I also admire people who use their success and experience to voluntarily help others.
Do you think a talent to lead is nature or nurture?
I think some people are natural leaders.
In my experience my parents had normal jobs so they did not nurture me to be a leader.
However you never stop learning, so even if you naturally put yourself to the front you have to listen and learn constantly.
How can a leader fail? Do you have a personal example?
There are so many potential failure points in this fast moving world.
Your eyes and ears have to be everywhere to keep an eye on what is going on both inside your business and outside. I have found the business has been affected when I step too far back from it.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
My greatest strength is having the balls to do it. You need to be prepared to have a go and to fail.
Surrounding yourself with good people is critical, building that team is a strength.
Weaknesses include wanting everything yesterday, I also find it hard to let go and allow people to do things their way. However, I know that is essential, because no one can do everything.
What do you find most challenging about being a leader?
The most challenging thing for me is the wide range of plates to keep spinning: sales, finance, investment, economy, marketing and most importantly keeping close to our clients and our people and understanding their changing needs.
What are you most proud of?
Retaining a good work/life balance whilst building the business. There is always so much to do that it would be easy to work 24/7.
I know of people who have worked so hard and built a business and as a result they have missed their children growing up.
I have always made the effort to work a normal working week, get home at a good time and not work weekends.
What’s your biggest indulgence?
I’m a big petrolhead so anything to do with cars.
I go to Le Mans every year, events at Goodwood and do track days in my Lotus Elise.
These range from kidnap/hostage scenarios, Grand Prix, SAS, Tivoli roller coaster crash, dance and RNLI immersive experiences.
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