Sustainability Fortnight: Careers in Construction
By UCL Careers, on 15 March 2019
The 26th of February saw our panel discussion for Sustainability Fortnight exploring careers in the Construction sector. Our panellists were:
- Julia Barrett, Director of Sustainability at Wilmot Dixon
- Ali Ashpitel, Assistant Sustainability Manager at Mace
- Jon Foster, Associate Technical Specialist at Atkins
- Anastasios Skitzis, Sustainability Manager: Construction at Lendlease
- Nerissa Webb, Environment and Sustainability Manager at Balfour Beatty
We heard from each panellist about their career path and the decisions that led them to their current roles – to hear their stories, you can read their biographies and view the event recording.
The speakers shared their wealth of experience and had plenty of advice for current students about what you can do now to get your career on track.
Julia spoke of the importance of knowing your values as this is crucial to researching what type of company you may decide to work for and their values. Julia then spoke of great work opportunities for young and old at Wilmot Dixon. Knowing your values and what you believe in is a good first step. Jon agreed with this and suggested that students spend time researching various types of companies to see which ones fit best. Make use of all possibilities and any connections that you may have. Anastasios added that it is important to be honest and care about what you are doing as this will come across in any interview.
Julia loves working within the community and likes the thought of leaving legacy. Businesses may compete, but companies work together as they believe in sustainability. This sector attracts people who want to do the right thing. Julia is an advocate of change and informed students that 95% of decisions are made automatically and this provides a big challenge when trying to implement sustainability.
Learn soft skills, show you have other skills as well
Julia spoke about being resilient and discussed the fact that students may have knock backs when going through the interview process. Growing soft skills such communication and adding experience through volunteering will help. Knowing yourself and your passion will make you stand out. Ali strongly recommended making use of your time outside studying by researching what types of companies that you may want to work for and networking at events and or social media such as LinkedIn.
Ali reported that her job as assistant sustainability manager for MACE has been very varied and interesting. Making sure that students have or work on good communication skills is key as client management is a transferable skill that many students may find themselves needing.
Nerissa spoke about her job being very rewarding and challenging. Working with clients the communication can be challenging but that it is very rewarding seeing the finished product.
Julia spoke about the field of construction are struggling to recruit at this time, suggested that students visit the website and do some research to see if Wilmot Dixon is of interest.
Julia also suggested Future Build. This is a big conference running for three days at Excel in London. There are free workshops, product management and sustainability. A good opportunity to do some research.
Jon spoke about the need to seize all opportunities presented, you never know what opportunities may present themselves.
The panel agreed that networking using social media such as LinkedIn has opened up many doors for students, many opportunities.
Want to learn more? You can find event recordings and resources from previous Themed Weeks on our website.