Preetya Bhikha - South Africa
Mace People

Preetya Bhikha

Project Manager

Consultancy, Australia

A net zero carbon champion, Preetya brings a passion for architecture and sustainability to every project she delivers. She leans on her architectural background to offer swift solutions during the design and construction process for the benefit of our clients.

How did you end up in this career?
I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and I’m a qualified architect. From a young age I was drawn to art, but I also enjoyed maths and science. It made sense for me to pursue architecture because it merges both science and creativity. I also knew that I wanted to do something that has a strong positive effect on the environment.

South Africa had a terrible drought in 2017 and through my studies at the University of Cape Town, I was invited to work on a research project looking at sustainable water solutions in built environments. I’m passionate about sustainability, and it was fascinating to explore how we can work with a limited resource like water, and integrate solutions across scales of the city, neighbourhood and in buildings themselves. 
Why Mace?
After finishing university, I worked as an architect for several years. I was the lead architect for the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)’s Western Precinct Offices in Johannesburg, where Mace was the project manager. The lead project manager gave me a wonderful impression of Mace. I had been wanting to transition to project management for a while, so when I heard about an opportunity to join the company in July 2020, I didn’t hesitate. I’m incredibly happy that I’ve joined. It’s a fantastic place to work and everyone is solution-oriented. If there’s a problem, the attitude is always ‘we can fix it’. 
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The collaborative nature and global reach of the company is great - our clients truly benefit from worldwide best-practice in project delivery. I have used my architectural knowledge as a base for developing my project management skills. Because I understand design processes and detailing, I can offer solutions quickly to assist with the design and construction process.

Our new corporate purpose and the priority ‘to pursue a sustainable world’ resonates with my personal passion. Clients are becoming more open to sustainable solutions. In my role, I’m able to explain the benefits of a particular design solution or new technology that we are using. There is increased awareness around the need to invest now to see the long-term benefits. Ultimately, it’s about taking clients on a journey to a more sustainable future. 
Any highlights?
I joined Mace and first worked on the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital Covid-19 ICU facility, which was a fast-tracked project to roll out a 500-bed intensive care unit in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. I’ve worked on healthcare projects before, so I was familiar with the sector, but what was really pronounced for me was the diverse set of skills that everyone brought to the Mace team. The use of collaborative technology, such as BIM 360, was received incredibly well. Due to restrictions of movement at the time, the project was completely remotely-designed and coordinated. It was a challenging project, but the team worked hard to ensure its success. The new facility was ready to greet patients in 30 weeks. 
What would your advice be to someone interested in a career like yours?
Try everything that you are interested in and explore different aspects of the construction industry. Find the part that you enjoy the most. Play to your strengths, make sure you adapt to new situations and stretch yourself. It’s important to enjoy a good challenge.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
I love being outdoors, going for hikes and runs. I also volunteer at the local animal shelter. 
If you didn’t end up in this career, what would you be doing?
I don’t mean to sound boring, but I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted. I’m really happy I chose this path. 
Preetya Bhikha - South Africa

“Ultimately, it’s about taking clients on a journey to a more sustainable future”