Head of Project Management Office - David Macaree
14 Aug 2020
- Layla Mirmalek



David Macaree is head of the Scientific Computing Department's Project Management Office. Here he talks about how his career has led him to STFC and a vision for a Project Management 'centre of excellence.'

David Macaree



David Mac (1).jpgDavid's science education and a passion for palaeontology began when he was just 7 years old and living in London. From those early days of running experiments, growing acquatic organisms, and building and launching rockets in his backyard, he went on to study BSc Biological Sciences (Hons) at the University of East Anglia. Here David specialised in molecular biology and microbiology focusing on plant pathology and genetics. His final year was spent at the John Innes Institute in the insect virology department.  

He then went on to be involved in projects and project management for a variety of different companies during his career. Coming back to a science environment has felt like returning to his roots.  "My career has been project and programme management all over the world in many different industries. It's always felt different to me, but at STFC, I feel I am now back home,"​ he says.

David joined STFC's Scientific Computing Department (SCD) in July 2019 and initially took over the project management of DAFNI (Data and Analytics for National Infrastructure). David explains, “For DAFNI this was strategic project management. I was working with Oxford University to change our collaboration agreement with them and 12 other universities, to update it and make sure it was fit for purpose and correct."

His job within SCD, and in particular working closely with Peter Oliver, our Head of Operations, allowed an extensive overview of how STFC operates, which David appreciated.  “Peter introduced me to the processes slowly; the way things are done, the way bids are costed, idiosyncrasies of research council administration and how SCD likes to do things, and now I am able to apply this in a wider context.'

David is still working with DAFNI but is also developing his role as head of SCD's Project Management Office (PMO).

David says, “Our Senior Leadership Team realised we had a gap in our management armoury, for how we were doing things. A lot of other departments are setting up PMOs and there's a larger initiative amongst the UKRI Councils to set up PMOs.

“I've taken their initial vision and added detail to it, and put my own stamp on it – to create a PMO that doesn't add to bureaucracy but minimises it as much as possible."

David's vision for the PMO covers 4 key areas:

Housekeeping such as operating support processes, Producing reports on interesting topics involving our science, Removing blockers –  any processes that we can improve or remove and, finally, creating a Centre of Excellence. And what might that include?

"This is the science and the way in which people are working. We want to get that out there- not just in SCD but STFC and wider. We want to create case studies, and create opportunities for people who are having great ideas and we want to support them in taking those ideas forward."

David stresses the importance of a portfolio framework that suits our needs. “We don't want to end up with a 'one size fits all'. The idea is that we are able to apply the right level of governance to the right level of project. Having more structure will make the partners we are working with more secure and comfortable."

David has the support of a team to help him achieve his vision. Layla Mirmalek and Nima Babaahmadi are working in the EU Support space where a lot of work has already taken place.  The latest change is introducing an electronic signature system to streamline EU project time-sheet submissions.​

Philip Jackson in the team is not only supporting people through the procurement process but also applying management principles and simplifying how it's done.  

Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)