Consultancy, Middle East
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jennifer Bradfield is thriving at Mace. Based in our Qatar office, Jennifer is part of the project management team working on a major programme that will continue to change the landscape of Doha well into the future. And she's not stopping there, having recently turned her hand to learning Arabic too.
- How did you get in to what you do?
- I was always interested in physics, art and woodwork at school, so architecture was a natural choice. After my bachelor's degree I completed a master's in construction and project management. I graduated during the tail end of the recession, so it was a difficult time to find work. I ended up working for a company appointed to deliver the Athletes' Village as part of London 2012. Mace was my client, and after project handover they approached me to join their team in the Middle East. There was no way I was letting the opportunity go, but after all my hard work I ended up missing the Olympics in London as it began just after I'd started in Qatar.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role?
Women in construction are few and far between, let alone women in construction in the Middle East. Being able to sit around the table and show clients how we can do things better, and being able to bring my UK experience, my ethos and my perspective to the discussion is incredibly rewarding.
It's also great to see projects hit completion when I've been working on them from the start.
- What has been your proudest moment at Mace?
Being promoted from assistant project manager to project manager and taking over four large health centre projects. Each of the centres has a floor area of around 30,000 square metres and includes clinics, exam rooms, triage facilities, swimming pools and lots of other facilities.
To be asked by Mace to take responsibility for these projects and to be trusted by the client was definitely my proudest moment, especially because I only had limited experience in healthcare.
- What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Working in the Middle East there's a real mix of cultures and the ethos can be quite different from the UK. You have to be patient and understand the different approaches different people might take.
I've actually started to learn Arabic, and even just knowing the basics has made a world of difference. It's so important to integrate when you're living abroad, learning the language and understanding the culture is the best thing you can do.
- What advice do you have for someone looking to do what you do?
Don't be afraid to put your hand up, but make sure you understand exactly what you're getting into. Chase knowledge, be informed.
I'd also recommend that you stay up to date with changes in technology and design. Smart technology, smart building and Building Information Modeling (BIM) are at the forefront of building trends, and it all moves at such a rapid pace that it's important to stay on top of what's going on.
- If you hadn't got in to this line of work, what might you have done instead?
- I would have been either a psychologist or a fashion designer.
“Being able to sit around the table and show clients how we can do things better, and being able to bring my UK experience, my ethos and my perspective to the discussion is incredibly rewarding.”