Ian Mabe shares his journey at Modus and his new role as Corporate Accounts Director
I joined Modus six years ago, having spent many years working in senior sales roles managing large teams within the hospitality and serviced office sectors. I had just turned 40 and was looking for something different whilst wanting to transfer the majority of my skills. Not quite a mid-life crisis, but I was definitely looking for a change of scenery! When I arrived for my interview, I firstly remember being impressed by the building Modus occupied (a good welcome experience is drilled in to you in the hospitality industry!) and secondly by the buzz when I walked into the office – I was made to feel immediately welcome. I interviewed at various of Modus's competitors, but in reality, no one came close to that first impression…
My first role at Modus was Project Director – working with the design and commercial team and pitching our ideas to prospective new clients. The first four years were a whirlwind picking up some amazing new clients along the way such as Ladbrokes, Deliveroo, Skyscanner, Atkins and William Hill.
It wasn’t long after that some of my clients started to want Modus to complete their second and third projects often skipping the competitive process – this is when you know you are delivering something worthwhile. William Hill was the first, repeating three times and I soon started to work with a new repeat client, Atkins - delivering c.200,000 sq ft in two years - now a key Modus client.
Modus has always done well with framework clients – probably due to our non-transactional approach, we are always looking to ‘win clients’ not projects which leads nicely onto the reason for this piece.
My role changed recently to that of Corporate Accounts Director which is testament to Modus providing a platform for its employees to flourish – particularly in an industry where senior sales people seem to move jobs regularly. The shift in our focus was to ensure our framework clients are provided with the best service that is available in the marketplace – do that and repeat business is sure to follow.
The latest framework in Modus’ stable is BT.
In May 2018 BT announced plans for The Better Workplace Programme (BWP) that will consolidate BT Group's footprint of more than 300 locations to around 30, containing modern, future-fit buildings, including corporate offices, contact centres and specialist locations - the largest programme of its type in the UK. In Spring 2020 Modus was formally appointed to work with BT on the BWP and commenced initial work by collaborating with the BT strategy team to create the BWP design guide – the blueprint for all projects within the programme.
Understanding BT’s motives and getting appointed
My first meeting with Brent Mathews gave an insight into the sheer scale of the programme BT were planning to undertake. Shortly after we were invited to present to key members of the BT team and at this stage we were introduced to Suzy Wright from the strategy team and Rob Williams who heads up procurement – in essence, to help them understand Modus’ capabilities and whether they believed we were a good fit for TBWP. Soon after, we attended a full day conference at the BT Tower and were privileged to have lunch on the top floor – the best view in London!
Following successful onboarding, Modus was appointed for the design and redevelopment of the Gosforth call centre, comprising over 100,000 sq ft of CAT B fit out to be completed in two phases over 32 weeks. The centre has over 1,000 active desks and was to remain in operation throughout the works. Working with Richard Sharman, Scott Walker and Liam Hodgson from BT we signed contacts in September last year.
TBWP underpins all activity
TBWP is all about putting Staff at the heart of their workplaces and the brief at Gosforth was underpinned by the belief BT wanted to provide a real sense of pride and belonging both on a corporate level, identifying with values and brand and a local level, identifying with productivity and how the Gosforth team can make a real difference.
From the outset, Suzy Wright commented that ‘BT wanted staff to have a frictionless experience which relates to increasing staff retention and allowing career progression through BT. An increase in the length of service also needs to be underpinned by a more fulfilling length of service. Presently, attrition is higher amongst some contact centre colleagues as they leave BT to work at competitor contact centres that offer a better work environment’.
Bringing TBWP to life
When it comes to repeat clients, it is critical that we provide consistent support throughout the project and the life of the relationship. This usually takes the form of a small team, in this case, myself, designer Purvi Parikh and pre-contracts manager, Shaun Monger. Creating this stable structure ensures our clients continue to get the best support possible and that we are able to make the transition onsite smooth.
However, stability doesn’t mean stagnant and we pride ourselves on doing things differently, not for the sake of it, but because it is in our DNA to push the boundaries and look for new opportunities and we certainly aren’t afraid of a challenge. In the case of the Gosforth site, this challenge was centred around the lack of a false ceiling, which meant we put a greater emphasis on the technical design, to ensure at all points the build would maintain structural integrity. This is where our technical designer Tom Shaw really shone. Playing a very specific and crucial role, Tom translates the localised ideas of the Gosforth team and the beautiful designs into clear and technical directives for the construction team to action.
While TBWP provides a set of standards and a guide for the representation of the BT brand within a project’s design, it also clearly outlines a need for a unique and localised finish. We were delighted to work closely with the Gosforth team, conducting interviews and engagement sessions to understand their specific requirements and translate that into the design of an office space that they will get to enjoy daily. We don’t always get the opportunity to work so closely with the people who will use this space in the years to come, but we have certainly enjoyed it and seen the benefit of such a high level of engagement which we have extended into the construction phase, with weekly project updates and access to the latest information available to the whole Gosforth team.
With the project now well underway, you will have to watch this space for updates!