Hotel Designs’ editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with new Managing Director of WATG London Martin Pease to discuss what’s next for the integrated design firm’ …
As industry leaders go, Martin Pease is somewhat unconventional in many of his methods, which is possibly what attracted WATG to him in the first place. Just days into his new role as the Managing Director of WATG London, Pease looked comfortably in control as he welcomed me into the firm’s London hub in Fitzroy Square.
Pease joins WATG from Atkins North America where he was Head of Architecture and Building Engineering from 2014-2018. During that time, he grew the firm’s business by 40 per cent across six offices. Prior to that, he was Head of Architecture for Dubai-based Damac, the largest privately-owned property developer in the Middle East.
What does 25 years of experience look like?, I asked with interest as we kick-started the interview. “Under these rolled up shirt sleeves are a lot of bruises and scars,” said Pease as we sat down in one of the meeting rooms. “Clients are very demanding, and rightly so! When you’re spending a lot of money, you want to feel as if you’ve got a trusted partner that gets what you’re about. In 25 years, I have been able to understand our clients’ businesses– maybe not as well as they do, but enough to grasp the touchpoints and the sensitivities in their market. 25 years of listening before talking and responding to clients in a way where that they know that you are putting them first has brought me to this moment.”
There’s something infectious about speaking to Pease. His hands-on leadership style is clear to see and also refreshing while his ability to always look ahead is inspirational. “I want to be involved in every aspect of the business because if you understand something then you can help and fine-tune what is a really strong business but can always be stronger,” he admitted. “The minute you think that you have achieved something and you’ve got it perfect, that’s the moment you should ask yourself ‘well what are we doing here? Is there something else we can do?’ because otherwise you stand still.”
HK: Favourite colour:
MP:Somewhere between black and white.
HK: What’s your favourite hotel of all time:
MP:Chateau De Mercues
HK: Biggest bugbear in hotel design:
MP: Key cards that don’t work
HK: Favourite hobby:
MP: I paint and draw constantly
HK: Travel essential:
MP: My Ipod classic with all my audiobooks.
HK: Who inspires you daily:
MP: At the moment, Gareth Southgate.
HK: Favourite meal:
MP:A genuine Paella.
HK: Number one tool for success:
MP:You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Architects don’t listen enough.
Pease arrives to the firm weeks after the WATG’s Great Architectural Bake-Off, which he promises me was not planned as he admits he is not the best baker in the world. Following the firm bringing together the best architects in London for the competition, I wanted to know how Pease saw collaboration in our industry. “The strongest organisations have a very solid collaborative spirit,” he explained. “You need to learn from mistakes that you make, as well as the mistakes that other people have made. Plus, clients are exactly the same. You need to be collaborative and cooperative. I compare what we do similar to that of an arranged marriage. It’s not a casual relationship that you strike up for a few weeks. Our relationships last years, and beyond if you are lucky enough to get repeat work. We are a bit like swans in the sense that we want to ‘mate for life’.
Pease’s unique style is a perfect match for one of the leading architectural firms in the world. With more than 19 major openings planned this year, Pease joins the firm at an exciting time and I look forward to following his and the company’s journey with interest.