How I got here; James Mitchell

By Emily Macdonald / Interviews / 25th March 2020

Ever wanted to know someone’s career journey? How did they get from A to B? How a former rugby player has become Focus Experiential’s Account Director?

We got to pick James Mitchell’s brain and find out how one man has made his way into the world of work. 

So Mitch nice and easy to start with, describe your work ethic in 3 words.

I would say I am dependable, versatile and motivated.

Where was your first job? What was the most important thing you learnt there and still apply to today?

I had a few small jobs when I was quite young like anyone but my first taste of proper work was working for a construction firm and being the young kid at the time, I had all the ‘fun’ jobs, which often involved a lot of running around, not a lot of breaks and lots of heavy lifting. The days were very long and the early starts were a shock to the system but the main thing I learnt was the value of teamwork and if you work together, you can achieve more.

Is there a piece of career advice you’ve been told that has stuck with you?

‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, very apt advice for anyone starting out in any industry which is alien to them.

‘The biggest competition is yourself’ yay or nay?

Interesting question! I would simply say that setting your own goals and targets is very important and you should push yourself to achieve those targets and have your own personal standards. There will always be obstacles in your way that are out of your control but don’t let them stop you, be willing to take on those challenges but keeping moving towards the person you want to be.

What project has stood the test of time and remains a favourite? Why?

That is tough! I recently visited Barking Riverside with a member of our team who had never seen it before and their reaction said it all. It was a great scheme to work on and the end result looks amazing, but also it was certainly a team effort across the group, everyone had a part to play and I do believe that the #FocusFamily can achieve anything when it works together.

For you what makes the perfect Focus ‘dream team’?

I would say it comes down to two points, first it’s being adaptable to any situation that gets thrown our way. At Focus, we have our roles, but what I think what makes us successful is everyone is willing to jump in and get involved to help the team. No day is the same and the people we have here are all great at helping each other in any situation, no matter what. Second and I think what stands us apart from our competitors, is that we do everything in-house. We have a great design team who hail from retail backgrounds who come up with some truly extraordinary concepts which excite our clients, and then our experienced project management team handle all the delivery elements including the onsite work and are amazing at bringing those design concepts to life. For us, it’s acting as an extension of our client’s team and ensuring we deliver the project to their full satisfaction.

Looking back, did you expect your career path to take the course it has?

Not at all! In my teens, I was part of a professional rugby academy and to be honest other than playing rugby when I was younger that’s all I wanted to do. When I was released, I went to university to study history but halfway through my first year I knew I definitely didn’t want to spend any more time there, I wanted to get out into the world, and that was about it. I then started working at my old school as a sports coach for a year before getting the opportunity to join Focus IMC, nearly 10 years ago!

This time next year where do you want to be?

Taking on new and exciting projects to test our capabilities as a business and strive to continue to do amazing things. We are always looking to improve how we operate and be at the forefront of everything we do across the group and I am always excited to see what happens next!

Now Property PODS – what are they and why do they stand you guys apart?

In short, our PODs are a versatile, reusable sales spaces created to be an alternative solution to a traditional sales cabin, double garage or house. Although these options may seem an easier route to go down initially and might seem cost-effective at the time, the hidden costs in reinstatements are often very high and customer experience is often found wanting. For us, we wanted to create a flexible environment that provides the best customer experience possible and tailor that experience and interior layout to suit your customers and sales team, but most importantly be cost-effective. The PODs can be moved and reused time and time again across your sites, not affecting your construction phase plans and requiring minimal groundworks.

We recently launched our POD family to let our clients know just some of the offerings we have, but the reality is we can provide solutions for any sizes and requirements, we aren’t limited to what we can do, if you are in need of a sales environment, we can look at this for you and make sure we plan the journey so your customers get the best experience and you get absolute value for money. We not only provide the building and interior design; we also handle all the onsite delivery, site management and the fit-out, we do everything! We also offer lease and finance options on our modular buildings so at an early stage we can make sure we are being cost-effective with a long-term strategy and be a part of your initial marketing budget.

And when you’re not in the office where would we bump into you?

Spending time with my lovely wife and family, wearing incredibly short shorts running around in a field with other blokes chasing an egg-shaped ball, or in a bar bashing out the karaoke classics to a collection of adoring fans, or angry locals!

And there we have it. The who, what, when, where and whys of how we got ourselves a James Mitchell.

If you like what you hear and want to know more feel free to get in touch with us directly.

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Emily Macdonald

Written by

Emily Macdonald

Emily is our marketing executive helping with all things Focus from social media posts to writing blogs. When not in the office you can catch her at the gym, bingeing on Youtube and slowly attempting to learn Finnish.