9686 Ian Mack – a career focused on major projects…and people
By DMGSP-4 Materiel Group Internal Communications Team
Director General Major Project Delivery (Sea) 9686 Ian Mack (RMC 1973) describes himself as overly directive and a fixer. “I’m a quadruple A personality so I’m driven and often impatient, a ‘glass half empty’ kind of person and a professional worrier.”
As the driving force behind the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy and the impetus behind two important initiatives to streamline and professionalize project management in the Department – the Project Manager Competency Development program and the Directorate Project Management Support Office – he certainly has plenty of fodder for worry.
Shipbuilding, he says, can be downright painful. “It’s about anticipating future threats for the next forty years and delivering a platform and, in our case, designing it to meet our specific purpose. It’s really tough, especially considering we’re going to put people in this ship in the middle of the ocean often in harm’s way. You have to make sure they have the best equipment possible within an appropriate budget.”
His day-to-day challenges centre on HR capacity, capability, skills and domain knowledge. But one of his biggest issues is helping people cope with change and become resilient. “Change is about personal transitions, embracing new behaviours and solutions. We have a new government with different priorities. Deputy Ministers, ADMs, DGs, Directors, a lot of people above the working level could potentially change. That’s why resilience, being able to bounce back, coping strategies, and mental illness initiatives are so important.”
Mr. Mack has always been an advocate of mentoring and coaching, which he considers essential attributes to supervision. “A Fortune 500 company CEO will almost always tell you they spend 25 per cent of their time on people issues. So I set the goal at 30 per cent for mentoring, developing programs and people. I’ll plant seeds with people throughout the organization and some of them will thrive and grow.”
He plans to retire next year after a career spanning four decades, 25 of which will have been spent in the Materiel Group. He retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral in 2007 to stand up the new Division DGMPD(L&S), which became DGMPD(S) in 2015.
Before he retires, Mr. Mack would like to grow momentum for his latest HR initiative. He calls it career development for all and he hopes it will see every single person in the organization with a career development plan.
“Some people have career goals where they want to stay at the same level and classification for their career. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be invested in, to learn, to do better in their job. Not everyone wants to be a Deputy Minister. There are those who want to change classifications and try something different. It isn’t just about figuring out how to become an ENG 6 or a PG 6 or whatever. A lot of us, particularly as we mature, are quite comfortable to become the trunk of the tree. This trunk is made up of people who are exceptionally good at what they do. Career development for all lets them decide which stream they want to be in.”
“It always comes back to people. If people are our most important resource, that’s where we should be spending our time.”