Senior Project Manager
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jennifer Bradfield spent a number of years delivering complex programmes for Mace in the Middle East, before moving back to the UK and taking up a role on the Heathrow Expansion programme.
- How did you get in to what you do?
I first became interested in construction at the age of 12, when my mother was building our home from the ground up. I’d already forged an interest in technical drawing, art, physics and maths and, combined, this all pointed me towards architecture.
I completed my undergraduate degree in architecture, but couldn’t quite connect with the shift towards more computer-based work. With that, I did a Masters degree in Construction Project Management. While studying, I also worked part-time for a small refurbishment contractor and, together, these influences set me on my career path.
After graduating I worked for a contractor appointed to deliver part of the Athletes' Village for London 2012. Mace was the client and, off the back of my work, a senior director asked me if I wanted to join the team in the Middle East. I’ve never been one to say no to a challenge and so I began my Mace journey.
- How has your career progresses since joining Mace?
I joined Mace as an assistant project manager, heading out to Qatar to work on the Ashghal public works programme. While there, I developed quickly under guidance from colleagues and I was promoted to project manager.
Mace then gave me the opportunity to relocate to the United Arab Emirates where I soon joined the Expo2020 scheme. It was a great move as it was a programme management role that also incorporated elements of construction management. It allowed me to develop my skills further and gave me a chance to be more ‘hands on’.
Most recently, I moved back to the UK to work as a senior project manager on the Heathrow Expansion programme. It’s a fascinating insight into a sector I’ve not previously had much involvement with.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
I’ve always made career decisions based on gaining more knowledge and challenging myself, so I’ve enjoyed getting stuck into the detail of the Heathrow Expansion programme and the Development Consent Order – the planning process the project is preparing for.
It’s an eye-opening experience that goes way beyond construction and takes a truly holistic view of a project. Getting involved with strategic processes like land acquisition and stakeholder engagement has helped me develop my skills further, while learning new approaches to early programme development.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Adaptability and determination are absolutely integral to being successful in the construction industry. Things change so much on big projects and programmes that you have to be able to flex with shifts in direction and then have the mentality and capabilities to refocus and deliver what’s needed.
These traits can help in a broader sense too. When I was in the Middle East I learned to speak Arabic. It wasn’t straightforward, but I was determined to pick it up and, ultimately, it was an adaptation that enhanced my professional relationships across multi-cultural teams.
- What do you hope you will be doing in the next 5-10 years?
I’d like to be leading a Mace project that’s truly innovative in the way that it positively changes communities and the industry.
There’s so much innovation in the sector (and beyond) and it feels like we’re only scratching the surface at the moment. It would be brilliant to lead on a project that utilises new ideas and technologies to drive more effective delivery and more sustainable solutions for everyone.
- What are the main positives you gained from working overseas at Mace?
Working overseas is an amazing experience that allowed me to learn about new cultures and different ways of working. You get to work with a diverse range of people from all over the world on some of the most amazing projects at scales you never thought possible.
I’ll always be grateful to Mace for giving me the opportunity to work abroad. I can’t imagine life not having done it.
- What attracted you to the aviation sector?
- The aviation sector is renowned for its scale and complexities, and that was certainly a major draw; I find big infrastructure projects exciting and challenging. People often think of airports as terminals and tarmac, but there’s so much more. When I was considering the move I spoke to colleagues already working in the sector and gained an appreciation of just how complex and intricate aviation schemes can be. I realised that I’d be well suited to the sector and took the plunge.
- If you hadn’t got into this line of work what do you think you might be doing?
- I’d like to have been an astronaut or be an astronomer. As a child I loved understanding the science behind the universe and was able to name many of the solar systems and stars when looking at the night sky through my telescope.
“There’s so much innovation in the sector (and beyond) and it feels like we’re only scratching the surface at the moment.”