Interview: Jamie Pereira, Pereira Projects

Jamie Pereira was crowned Inavate APAC Awards’ Consultant of the Year for 2021. Reece Webb sits down and talks to him about his journey from learning the trade, freelancing as a draftsman to establishing and growing his own consultancy business.

Jamie Pereira stands out as a leading example of consulting done right, from humble beginnings learning the ins and outs of AV integration, electrical engineering and more to founding a powerhouse consultancy firm that specialises in delivering exemplary projects with a close-knit group of talented team members.

Pereira has racked up more than 13 years of industry experience. He talks about his journey: “I’ve always been very hands-on. I worked at an integration firm as a project engineer doing installs on their bigger projects. I had a bit of a wake-up call at age 20, learned a drafting trade as an apprentice and learned a lot about electrical engineering, lighting design and AV.”

Pereira worked from 2013 to 2017 as a freelance draftsman, specialising in technology and architectural design and project management on small to medium-sized residential and commercial projects before starting his own consultancy firm, Pereira Projects, in 2017. Today, Pereira works closely with his business partner Jack Wilson and head of engineering Grant Bates to deliver outstanding projects throughout Australia. Pereira and Wilson were also both inducted into Inavate APAC’s 40 under 40 Class of 2019 and Class of 2020.

Under the company’s banner, Pereira spearheaded many successful projects, most notably for the Australian Catholic University, as well as a major fitout for a telecoms company and a leading bank in Sydney, Australia.

Pereira explains: “The whole reason behind starting Pereira Projects and leading a team of my own stems from a reluctancy to being hamstrung. If I was working for another company, I wouldn’t be holding the purse strings, in large companies, you can get restricted in terms of what you can or can’t do, I wanted to look after my team members. I decided to see where it goes, and a project came up with Western Sydney University and that’s what started the company.”

But what is it that makes a good consultant? To Pereira, it’s not as simple as being able to specify a good system: honesty, communication and strong relationships are the keys to understanding the needs and point of view of every person the project touches. The end users are at the centre but you also need to consider delivery, operations, support and each member of a project’s team, making the delivery of a world class system much easier. Pereira puts focus on a partnership model, embedding everyone and focusing on truly understanding the client’s problems, from all aspects of the organisation. In his opinion this builds strong relationships and ensures successful projects are delivered.

Pereira says: “The partnership model is not just with clients, but with the project delivery team as well. To have a successful project, you must have everyone working together as a cohesive unit. We work as an extension of the client’s external team, and I always treat every project like I’m building my own house. Whatever money you’re spending, that brief, and project is yours – treat it like it’s your own money, you have to own it. Don’t go and put things in there that aren’t needed or asked for unless you know exactly what the client needs. Our goal as a consultant is to make sure we offer the maximum value for money, deliver on the brief and make sure money is spent properly to drive a strong return on the investment.”

Pereira’s strategy puts a strong emphasis on solid relationships, putting the focus solely on quality over quantity.

Pereira says: “Our strategy is to have few clients but really good relationships, doing lots of work with a smaller group of clients. You get to know people, understand their needs, and deliver great outcomes. The long-term partnership model is not just with clients, but with the project delivery team as well. To have a successful project, you need everyone working together as one, everybody needs to be on the same page. That goes for the client side, IT side, integrator, builder, everybody needs to do their part in the puzzle.”

Part of the challenge for Pereira lies in understanding the positions and challenges of every member of the team on a project, from the installer to the end user’s ultimate goal. Having an empathetic view and keeping every stakeholder and team member in the loop is key to Pereira’s success.

Pereira adds: “You need to care about what you do, focusing on the outcome and the client’s expectations. As a consultant, you’re external so you understand technology, how to put systems together and user requirements, but going into integration, I also have to understand how to install and configure equipment, running cables and how to manage all that stuff on the ground, I learned heaps about managing all of that.

“I’ve learned a lot along the way just through being put in the right position, having some great mentors, being curious enough and sitting by the client’s side to understand what they’re going through.”

Looking to the future, Pereira sees consultancy undergoing a fundamental shift from its more traditional methodology to a specialist advisory role as IoT technologies come to the forefront and the needs and requirements of clients continue to shift.

Pereira clarifies: “When I started Pereira Projects, I always focused on where we offered the most value. Today, there’s a lot more ‘off-the-shelf’ solutions available now like ‘all-in-one’ soundbars. A client can go down the road, buy a screen and a soundbar and have a videoconferencing setup. That bespoke, custom work that we did a lot of when we started is disappearing now.

“Consultancy on the digital side is going to more of an advisory role. With smart buildings coming into play a lot more, everything is connected and that is where we are taking our business, project management is the key. Being that specialist technology advisor for clients is now becoming more common and it seems that specialist technology project management with a focus on the experiential and integration side of things is the future, something that AV is very well ingrained in. We’re in a position where we can lead the smart buildings transition.”

Pereira is a first-time winner at the Inavate APAC Awards but believes that his personal success is all down to the hard work and dedication of his fellow team members at Pereira Projects and the great support of all their specialist collaboration partners. He believes that this hard work has helped to grow the business and develop bigger and better projects. In Pereira’s mind, no consultant truly works alone and his success is the product of a close knit, ingenious team.

Pereira closes: “I was blown away when I found out I’d won. I’ve never really won an award and I’ve worked hard to get to this point, winning Consultant of the Year is huge. It’s a massive win for me and the team. I take it less as recognition for myself and what I’ve done, and more for what my team has been able to achieve. We’ve also got a big network of partners around us that believed in us and supported us along the way. It’s all about the team and the people you work with. Jack, Grant, Aaron and the support from my wife Melissa, and Jack’s wife Emma are the reasons that I can claim this Award. To me, it’s an Award for the team, and it means a lot to us.”

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