The Built Environment

Issue 99

Michael Henning - Director, Todd Milburn Chartered Surveyors and Construction Consultants.

Did you always envisage a career within the Built Environment?

At 16, I wanted to leave school but like many at that age, without a clear career path in mind. Careers guidance led to an interview for a Quantity Surveyor position, which intrigued me. Delving into information from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), I decided to pursue this route. I spent four rewarding years learning the ropes in private practice. Later, I gained great experience within North Tyneside Council Architects Department, expanding my skills in a multi-disciplinary environment. I pursued my professional qualifications part-time, achieving Chartered Surveyor status in 1988.

Transitioning back to the private sector with RNJ, I rose to partner before joining a client, Rivergreen Developments. This gave me invaluable experience managing development and construction projects. I then joined Summers Inman, becoming a Local Director, before establishing Henning Project Management in 2014. In 2017, I merged with Todd Milburn, assuming the role of Director in the company. Fair to say it’s been a long and winding road but they’re always the most interesting routes!

Tell us about your current role.

I spend around 75% of my time working with a great range of clients in a Project Management role and 25% of my time in a Cost Consultancy and Quantity Surveyor role. I’m also North East Regional Chair of the RICS, promoting engagement and acting as a voice for the local members.

Tell us about your team.

We have a small but highly skilled team !

Mark Berry, my Co-Director, has been with the company since 2013, excelling in all sectors, especially in conservation and heritage fields. After 30 years at Todd Milburn Colin Anderson stepped back from being a Director and into a consultancy role in 2023. Jim Benson is our highly experienced Principal Designer. Dan Tipping is our Senior Building Surveyor and Project Manager bringing exceptional expertise in the commercial, education, utilities and healthcare sectors. Our Office Manager Anne Smith keeps the team running smoothly.

We’ve most recently taken on Thomas Robinson. We quickly recognised his talent during a placement year and he’s joining us permanently while finishing his degree part-time at Northumbria University. It’s so encouraging to see fresh talent coming through and we’re looking to create more roles this year.

What are you currently working on?

We have several exciting projects at the moment across the region in all sectors. Notable projects I’m working on with Newcastle City Council include the refurbishment of the historic Grainger Market and the development of the Forth Yards area adjacent to the Utilita Arena. Also The Pattern Shop in Stephenson Quarter which is the conversion of a Robert Stephenson railway heritage building into modern sustainable office space.

What are your proudest career achievements?

I’ve worked on some fantastic projects, from the external refurbishment of Lindisfarne Castle in the 1990s to the new headquarters of the Newcastle United Foundation, NUCASTLE, in 2022. My most memorable project was the commercial management of a new data centre in Stockholm in the early 2000’s – a fantastic place and experience.

What is your favourite building?

Undoubtedly Durham Cathedral. The view of it when travelling on the East Coast mainline is something I will never tire of!

How do you see your industry evolving over the next 10 years?

The industry has seen a hard couple of years as a consequence of the challenging economic conditions but if the predicted increases in consumer spending and business investment happen, the outlook is much more positive. The drive to net zero must continue and the wider economic and social impact of developments will become much more of a focus.

What does the future hold?

Further expansion and maintaining our excellent reputation for work on local projects.

Who would be your four ideal dinner guests?

Entertaining storytellers and people who seem like they’d be great company, so Billy Connolly, George Clooney, Emma Stone and Steven Bartlett. I’ve listened to them all on audiobooks and podcasts and they’d keep the conversation lively and interesting! I met Steven Bartlett earlier this year but a second chance for a proper chat would be good.

How do you like to unwind?

Socialising, watching films and playing the guitar badly. I’m a season ticket holder at Newcastle United, although is that unwinding? I also love to sample the excellent red wines on offer from my ‘local’, the superb Jesmond Wine Company.

Favourite Boxset?

The first one I was hooked on, 24.

Favourite Book?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig which I first read when I was 17 – it’s had a lasting impact on me. I actually gave a copy to Steven Bartlett. He hadn’t heard of it but I hope he reads it. We can discuss it at our dinner!

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