On the trail of multidisciplinary challenges, a strong team and satisfied customers

Would you briefly introduce yourself?

I'm something as atypical as an engineer in an architecture firm.

I really wanted to be an architect, but my father, who is an architect himself, thought that was a bad idea. There were so many unemployed architects, so I became an engineer instead. The year I graduated, there was 40 per cent unemployment among newly graduated engineers, so you shouldn't guess about that (laughs).

Why did you choose a career path in building consultancy?

At the beginning of my career as an engineer, I actually thought I was going to be a researcher and spent six months trying to find a company that would fund an industrial PhD, but in 1991, when I graduated, there was a crisis everywhere, so there were no engineering companies that would pay for an industrial PhD. And then I thought the next best thing would be to work in research at the Building Research Institute, where I worked with life cycle analyses of buildings, and one good thing came out of that: I realised that I was never going to be a civil servant again.

My luck changed when I joined Birch & Krogboe - now called Niras - to work with environmentally friendly construction and got a great mentor. He got me involved in client counselling, and when summer came and there was a lack of assignments for me, I was put in charge of sales. I've been doing both ever since.

It was also at Birch & Krogboe that I met Lars Kragh, with whom I had a great working relationship and have worked with for 25 years now - only interrupted by a number of years at Drees & Sommer before joining KHR.

Can you explain in more detail what you do as Director of Client Consultancy at KHR Architecture?

First and foremost, I'm responsible for ensuring that all client consultants have tasks to solve. Client consultants are in demand in the market, so it's important that they thrive at KHR, with a suitable workload, interesting tasks that develop them professionally, and not least a good social environment.

I'm also involved in a lot of the projects to help ensure that we deliver a consistent product to our customers.

I have made technical due diligence for 30 years, so I know what it's all about and am good at bridging the gap between the technical and commercial levels. It's a role I really enjoy, and being part of an architectural firm is very valuable. I can easily get a colleague to sketch out an idea so that the customer can more easily relate to the possibilities of the property.

It's important that the entire team is aware of what our architectural colleagues can contribute in terms of both concrete and possible derived tasks, so that we fully utilise the synergies in the building.

What are the success criteria for you and your team of client advisors?

It is of course a goal for me to client counselling is successful and that both our customers and colleagues can see that it makes sense to have a client consultancy department in an architectural firm. The breadth of competences and the interaction between them provides great value both internally and externally.

For the same reason, it is also a success criterion for me that our department continues to grow. This means that we have even more competences and projects that also benefit the architecture department.

And of course, satisfied customers are a key success criterion. We want both new and existing customers to feel that we take every job seriously and do our utmost to fulfil their expectations and then some.

What motivates you most in your work?

Anything difficult - I love new challenges. Never tell me "it can't be done" and I'll want to prove you wrong! I thrive when I have to combine different disciplines and involve multiple parties to make things happen. It's a lot of fun. I like to meet new people and find it exciting that I'm in contact with so many Danish and foreign companies, especially where I can build a deeper relationship.

Is there a project that you are particularly proud to have contributed to?

Basically, I think it's fun when we manage to create synergies between the competences of the house. It can be when a client consultancy assignment grows into an architectural assignment or vice versa, such as the due diligence on Copenhagen Cargo Center, which became a 5,000 m2 new building, or Hvidovervejen Shopping Centre, which also started as a due diligence and became a large housing project.

Which project would you like to work on?

I really wanted to be involved in working on a new national stadium. I've done a lot of stadium projects - including the B stand in Parken and it's no secret that I'm really into football (ed: Peter is a Leeds and FCK fan).

ESG is a hot topic in the industry. How do you advise on ESG and do you have any general advice in this regard? Any specific standards or tools that can be useful in relation to ESG reporting?

The biggest challenge is that there is no industry standard. This makes it difficult to compare data and projects. We have been involved in sparring on the development of Real ESG, where a number of industry players have come together to produce a transparent, concrete, comparable ESG report, and this is at least a start. The EU has also, as part of their taxonomy, developed a screening tool that can help determine which activities have a sustainable profile and thus can feed into an ESG report, but no matter how you slice it, it's still an ad hoc discipline.

How do you stay up-to-date in your profession and industry?

Naturally, I keep up to date with our customers and my network, which gives me a good insight into the demands of the market, and there's constant learning through the tasks we solve.

Do you have any advice for an investor considering buying a building or developing a project?

You have to be careful about giving general advice because people have to make their own decisions, but when it comes to property transactions or developing new projects, they should have a qualified advisor with them - such as KHR who, with the combination of architecture and client consultancy can offer an exciting range of consultancy services.