Based in the Middle East since 2012, Helen Latham has worked on some of the region’s most impressive projects, including Expo 2020 in Dubai. Helen’s diligent approach to project controls has been crucial to keeping some of Mace’s biggest Middle Eastern programmes on track.
- How did you get into what you do?
My parents were a big influence on me. My dad was a contractor, so I spent a lot of my weekends on site, sitting by the cement mixer, playing in the sand. After my A levels, I ended up working in a quantity surveying office. I didn’t even know what quantity surveyors did when I applied for the job, but I loved it and decided to pursue quantity surveying at university.Following graduation, I started a career in project management. I worked mostly in the retail sector, travelling all over Europe and developing my programme management expertise on a range of interesting and challenging schemes. It was when I was acting as a consultant on the London 2012 Olympics that I met Mace.
- How has your career progressed since joining Mace?
- I started my career at Mace by joining the international team and have been based in the Middle East since 2012. I’ve worked on a range of fascinating projects from Doha Festival City to Reem Mall in Abu Dhabi and Expo 2020 Dubai.
- What have been some of your highlights working on Expo 2020 Dubai?
- Consistently breaking five million manhours a month and making sure that everyone goes home safely every day. Expo 2020 is an incredible project at an incredible scale. I’m so proud of the work that the team has put in to embed such high standards of health, safety and wellbeing.
- What has been your proudest achievement at Mace?
In 2018, Mace took almost 50 candidates through the APM [Association for Project Management] programme, which sets the benchmark for project management in the UK. To have this many people gain the professional qualification was a real indication of our commitment to ensuring consistent service excellence for our clients. The course was on top of the day job, so a group of colleagues and I ran a night school and weekend boot camps to get the candidates through their exams. I’m so proud of them. They say it’s made a massive difference to the way they do their jobs.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
- In my role, I need to be tenacious. It allows me to manage the wider team effectively and challenge them at our regular project reviews. Tenacity also ensures that I can be accountable and respond to the challenges placed on me by my clients and senior Mace colleagues. This feeds into the need to be able to work to a deadline; we have daily reports that our client-side colleagues must receive on time, in order to be able to do their jobs effectively.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
My home in the UK is a 1920s two-bedroom timber beach hut on the River Thames, with moorings at the end of my garden.
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
Either running a tea shop as I love baking (and eating cake), or I would have liked to be a writer.
“Expo 2020 is an incredible project at an incredible scale. I’m so proud of the work that the team has put in to embed such high standards of health, safety and wellbeing.”