There is a strong sniff of serendipity about Mark Kirwan’s circuitous route to becoming a chartered surveyor and director at Duke McCaffrey Consulting
As a self-confessed numbers “nerd” with a love for balancing budgets and aptitude for arithmetic, he spent more than six years of his formative working life as a debt recovery manager at the Bank of Ireland and looked destined to focus on finance full-time.
However, an out-of-office decision to buy and renovate a property with his partner demonstrated a dexterity for building design as well as digits and set the foundations for his eventual conversion to construction.
“I’d always been good with my hands and enjoyed getting them dirty but renovating my own home and project managing the cost of doing so opened my eyes to the possibility of doing something different,” he explained. “I could see that changing sectors by becoming a surveyor would allow me to marry my financial brain with my more creative side.
“The challenge of the job – seeing a plan, plot of land and knowing you have a set amount of money to make it work – really appealed to me and still does.”
Mark’s blueprint to realising his ambitions included attaining a firstclass degree in construction economics and management from the Dublin Institute of Technology and four-year tenure with Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).
“Working for NAMA proved the best work experience I could have ever had,” he added. “From in-house procurement teams to a legal department, there was so much expertise on hand and every brain possible to learn from.
“While the holistic understanding of the industry he garnered at NAMA has been benefiting the clients of Duke McCaffrey since his arrival at the firm in 2017, Mark credits his sporting past with having an even bigger influence on his impact.
The former hurler and footballer has captained and coached sides at St Vincents GAA for more than two decades and – as head of operations – has worked tirelessly to champion a team ethos at Duke McCaffrey.
“Business is not about individuals, it’s about the right people with the right attitude working together,” the 42-year-old concluded. “Success is about bringing everyone with you and that is very much part of the culture at Duke McCaffrey and why we remained profitable – and did not drop any balls – throughout the pandemic.
“The day of line managers and heads of department hiding away in offices has gone; bosses should be accessible and there should be complete transparency. People need to feel equal and able to approach any desk with an issue or to offer a solution.”
Mark’s assertion that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts demonstrates a career in construction has done little to dent his nous for numbers.