Last edited 15 Jul 2016

Commercial manager


[edit] Introduction

In construction, a commercial manager is responsible for overseeing and managing the finances of a project as it progresses. They should also be capable of maintaining a long-term view in terms of business opportunities that will enable their organisation to develop and grow, being responsible for exploring new avenues of business, delivering bids and negotiating contracts.

The commercial manager is typically the head of a commercial team, overseeing the work of quantity surveyors, estimators and planners. While the exact job specification of a commercial manager will vary according to organisation and project, their general duties and responsibilities might include:

  • Strategically expanding, preserving or improving procedures and standards.
  • Resolving contractual and commercial problems.
  • Overseeing financial key performance indicators (KPIs) of a project.
  • Offering financial direction and instruction to the project team, ensuring they understand key aspects of the contract.
  • Reporting on financial performance to the project manager and other senior staff members.
  • Assessing risk.
  • Managing and mentoring the quantity surveying team.

Most commercial managers will work for contractors or subcontractors, although some may be independent consultants. They may be responsible for several projects simultaneously.

Working for a smaller company may provide the commercial manager with greater responsibility in a shorter space of time, albeit, typically on smaller projects. Larger companies may offer a commercial manager the chance to work on higher profile, larger and often more challenging projects, usually as part of a larger team.

[edit] Skills and experience required

Commercial managers will often have a quantity surveying background with several years of construction industry experience. Some commercial managers can progress into the role from an engineering background.

The skills that are required include:

  • Strong commercial awareness.
  • Excellent client liaison and people management skills.
  • Good negotiating skills.
  • Extensive understanding of the construction industry.
  • Good analytical, financial and numeracy skills.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Sound knowledge of contracts and the legal framework.
  • Good leadership skills.

While not being strictly necessary, it is usual for commercial managers to have a university education. BSc (Hons) degrees are available in Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying.

For more information, see Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying course essentials.

Many commercial managers become chartered through a relevant professional body, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Institute of Commercial Management (ICM).

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