Having previously worked for ClearyDoyle in the early 2000s, Ian Downing returned in 2023 as our new Business Development Manager and has been working alongside the senior management team to streamline and modernise business operations.
Originally from South Africa, Ian first moved to Ireland in 2001. He worked for ClearyDoyle between 2003 and 2006 before joining another Irish firm. He moved to the UK in 2010, where he worked for a number of construction firms and was ultimately appointed Head of Operations for one of those contractors before returning to Ireland when he rejoined ClearyDoyle in 2023.
What is your background/qualifications?
I am a chartered civil engineer by profession. Over the years, I have added to my credentials, including qualifications in construction and project management, keeping my skill set up to date. I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Building and the Institute of Project Management.
I worked with ClearyDoyle between 2003 and 2006, getting to the level of contracts manager on projects that included school extensions, office refurbishments, retail and manufacturing facilities, several luxury homes around Dublin, and Whites Hotel in Wexford.
I worked with another large Irish contractor from 2006, overseeing developments in Ireland and UK, which included apartment schemes ranging in scale from six to 23 storeys.
Between 2009 and 2022, I worked for a number of UK-based builders before being appointed Head of Operations for one of them. In this role, I headed up teams on civils, data centres, housing and industrial projects.
What does your new role in ClearyDoyle involve?
As Business Development Manager at ClearyDoyle, I have been working alongside Brian [Byrne] and John [Doyle], the joint managing directors, to streamline operations across the business, and we have achieved much in a very short space of time. It helps that the whole ClearyDoyle team has been very receptive to the changes.
To date, I have overseen the integration of Procore construction project management software into the company. We have also been reviewing procedures and have started to see major improvements in efficiency and levels of quality. A newly enhanced communications system has also improved information exchange within the company and with clients and other project stakeholders.
I am also overseeing several of ClearyDoyle’s general contracting and design and build projects.
What do you think have been the key improvements made to ClearyDoyle’s service offering to clients?
The new procedures and systems mean we have clearer lines of communication and improved engagement with clients and other project stakeholders. This has added to the level of trust that ClearyDoyle enjoys with clients.
ClearyDoyle is a family business. It is important to the managing directors that there is open and honest communication across the company. Team members support each other, and everyone is listened to and encouraged to express their opinions. The new systems and procedures are enhancing this and facilitating greater cooperation across the company.
In addition to upskilling existing staff in modern construction methods, we are also bringing in new people with specialist skills. We have created a new technical team to operate as a think tank and interrogate current thinking and review alternative working methods and products.
Finally, with Procore, we have introduced a standardised programme to manage projects from tender stage right through to completion and handover. By standardising our operations, we are achieving greater efficiencies, and this is resulting in more streamlined project delivery.
What are the critical challenges for digital and lean practices in Ireland?
Construction as a sector has an ageing workforce that, in general, is not confident with IT. As an industry, we must find ways to encourage new learning around digital technology. Contractors need to do all they can now to facilitate their workers to be more competent and confident with new building processes and systems, or they will get left behind.
From a sustainability perspective, the sector needs to reduce its carbon footprint as a matter of urgency. As part of this, we need to reduce the level of waste produced. This can be achieved, for example, by the introduction of standard detailing and with procurement being closely aligned to minify waste.