An Interview with John Delaney

Role: Director
Office location: London/Dublin
Joined the team: July 2019

Why Base? 
Base is recognised within the industry as a growing Expert Witness firm focused on delivery and quality. Base has the reputation of a continually successful niche business with a healthy mix of new and repeat clients. Most importantly, it has a culture of ‘people first’. I believe that finding the right combination of people and skills creates an optimal working environment – this gives Base a great advantage to continue to grow and deliver excellent service.

What were you doing previously? 
I have spent the past 6 years working with HKA (formerly Hill International), the world’s biggest expert witness services and claims consultancy group. Prior to that, having recently moved from Dublin to London, I spent three years with Blake Newport; a commercial cost management, claims and dispute resolution firm. I’ve also worked as a contractor’s QS and PQS in Dublin, an estimator and QS for a carpentry firm in Sydney and, at the beginning of my construction career, as a labourer in Dublin, New York and Sydney.

What do you feel you bring to Base? 
I have extensive experience working in a vast range of roles across a spectrum of projects in both the construction and engineering sectors.

I think I bring real-world experience, coupled with focused educational and professional training. This has allowed me to move into and develop my role as an Expert Witness.

What would you consider to be your area of expertise? 
Quantity Surveying and the assessment and valuation of construction and engineering costs.

What are your career aspirations for the future? 
To continue to develop as an Expert. You are never quite the finished article at any stage of your career but, particularly in the world of experts, every project is slightly different and presents new challenges. I would also like to begin getting appointments as an adjudicator in the near future.

How do you see the industry changing in the future? 
The driving force for change, as with most things in life, is technology and I don’t think that’s any different within construction. However, the industry is far from innovative and is notoriously resistant to change. Processes are still very much rooted in practices that were common 40 years ago. Technology will inevitably lead to an industry that, in many aspects, will be unrecognisable to the one we know today.

[Base] has a culture of ‘people first’. I believe that finding the right combination of people and skills create an optimal working environment…

How do you see Base fitting into those changes? 
I believe that our wide exposure across different sectors places us in a great position to be able to meet these changes. Whilst many in the construction industry can spend 30 years working in one sector, the dispute world exposes you to numerous different projects, contracts and geographical locations. I think this gives Base a unique opportunity to react to changes occurring around the world and to be able to present our analysis and evidence in a coherent and considered fashion.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career so far? 
After the economic crash in Ireland, I arrived in London with limited knowledge of the UK market. I was unfamiliar with the details of the NEC and JCT contracts. Familiarising myself with the market and conveying that I was capable, competent and experienced enough to be able to transfer my skills to a different environment was an initial challenge.

What did you learn from that? 
A chartered QS has a huge number of adaptable and transferrable skills; from technical, to economic, procurement, negotiation, contractual and commercial. This means that, whether they are working for a public body, a private developer, a consultancy or a contractor, they are able to deal with a range of issues and work in a number of different environments. There are very few professions that allow you to develop such a diverse spread of experience in such a short space of time. Moving to the UK really opened my eyes to that and to the number of opportunities and directions that can be presented when you focus on developing your core QS skills, and how those skills are applicable across construction and engineering.

What would be your biggest piece of advice to those starting in the industry today? 
Develop your network from day one. Work on it constantly and it will pay dividends down the line, enabling you to reach out and find opportunities that might not be immediately obvious. It can also be great fun, people in the industry are always interesting and, if nothing else, they will understand what a QS does!