Mark Beckett Suzi Perry

Throughout my working life, I have always liked lists. From being an electrician to a contracts manager in the earliest stages of my career, I found myself involved with organising resources: from equipment to materials, vehicles and even people. I developed trackers in Excel to help keep everyone and everything organised.

Travelling the World

When I travelled the world, I took planning with me – spending 19 months travelling and working for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, and the Reserve Bank of Australia. It was when I returned to the UK to work for the Houses of Parliament in supervision and management that I found a pattern: I was utilising lists and trackers wherever I saw a benefit to do so.

My career then took me to Gabon in West Africa, where I became an electrical engineer for a project in the Oil & Gas sector for Shell. I developed a tracker for the site Electrical & Instrumentation works, which the planner for the project loved when I reported progress back to him. He was a lovely man, and suggested I should get into planning – not an easy route to take in the UK in 2009.

Gabon West Africa

Introduction to Project Planning

He said that if I managed to pass the planning course, I might be eligible to work abroad getting the 3 years experience required by the largest UK companies. On my 4 weeks off rotation, I enrolled on a Primavera P6 course in Hereford for three days – a tough course I paid for myself, and passed.

Travelling back through the jungle for three days, I returned to Gabon – proudly showing John the project planner my newfound qualification. We discussed ways of becoming an experienced planner, and he sought permission for me to assist him once I’d finished my daily electrical work. I’d be set on drafting a plan for Electrical, Instruments and Mechanical – my first hands-on planning experience, that I learned so much from.

I formulated the idea of becoming a freelance project planner back in 2010, and toyed with how viable it would be. But the software and the licenses were prohibitively expensive, and were reserved for corporate businesses – so the idea was shelved.

So I continued working as an Electrical Engineer, Project Lead and Project Manager at BP for nearly six years – constantly working alongside project planners. I discussed with them what their roles were, and used my knowledge to help them in any way I could and get involved as much as possible. 

Following on from this, I received permission to be mentored by a professional planner a few hours a week, when a timely departure by another planner meant I could apply for a role. My application was successful, and I became the lead planner for BP Saltend. 

The Beginning of Beckett Planning Solutions

Over the next 4 years I developed my skills and training, yet the idea of running my own business kept coming up. On holiday I’d scribble notes, jot down ideas, and make lists, often when my son Alfie was sleeping!

After returning from holiday I started discussing these ideas with my brother Lee. We began to research, strategise and shape the business – and decided to take the plunge and set up a limited company in September 2017. 

We suffered a year long setback along the way when I discovered I needed a new hip, which caused the business to lay dormant while I continued my work at BP. When I was in a position to leave and work on the business full-time: BPS Ltd. was born in November 2018.

Mark Beckett

My working life has covered a number of different careers and industries, but the common thread has always been working as part of a team to deliver an end goal.

Education and Early Career

In the early stages of my career, I provided care and expertise in operating theatres: leading a small team supervising theatres, and negotiating workloads with Surgeons, Anaesthetists and nursing teams. And although I loved leading a team, I made the decision to leave the healthcare sector to pursue my passion for music. 

I gained a Bachelors and then a Masters Degree from Leeds University, which led me to work with the world renowned Hallé Orchestra in Manchester as part of their concerts team. I saw first-hand how a dedicated and resourceful group of musicians could deliver a world class programme of music throughout the UK, and overseas on tours.

Orchestra

Project Planning and Events Management

It was this role that fired up my enthusiasm for providing live music performances, by bringing joy to thousands of people – and grew my passion for events management. I then developed this passion further by taking a Local Government role as part of their Events Team.

Learning about events management made me realise how important collaboration is, and how to work to short deadlines using multiple agencies to deliver a range of services. I honed my supervision and leadership skills learned initially through my nursing career – bringing them to project management. 

Collecting together all the elements required to provide events for up to 40,000 people requires all the tools and skills of project management. I worked with Local Authorities for a number of years, before moving to an exciting new role leading and developing a three-year programme of arts in a local venue, starting completely from scratch.

benefits of project planning

A New Direction

When this fixed-term project unfortunately came to an end, I was left without a clear direction. The arts had suffered terribly in the financial crash and years of austerity – which prompted a move to a completely different area. 

I worked for a large regional business as a manger, which developed my project management skills further. Through conversations with my brother Mark, we discussed how I could bring together my ideas for the branches in my care. He’d been working as a Project Planner in the petrochemical industry for some time, and suggested using Primavera P6 to achieve my goal.

Although I wasn’t familiar with it at the time, I had experience using planning software and used Primavera to create an Annual Operating Plan (or AOP) for the five branches, equipment, vehicles and 30 staff under my leadership. 

I loved developing my own AOP plan and instantly saw the adaptability for businesses it offered, and not just in the construction or heavy industry fields. We then discussed the idea of BPS Ltd. and agreed to set up the business together, joining together our skill sets to achieve our vision.