At university Barbara was sponsored by the RAF and the Royal Academy of Engineering and, through a leadership award at the academy, experienced some interesting projects around the world. After graduating, Barbara joined Mace and nearly two decades later has an amazing career that enables her to deploy her breadth of skills and experience to deliver complex and challenging programmes for clients in the UK and overseas.
How did your past career lead you to Mace?
The STEM subjects I studied through school matched nicely with an engineering degree and after a lot of research, and careers advisors telling me, “construction isn’t for women” (red rag to a bull!), I chose to study civil engineering.
Although I had secured a place in the RAF, I applied for three jobs. I was offered them all but my mind was already made up: during the interview process, I met one of the founding directors of Mace and I knew that this was a company I wanted to be a part of. Nearly two decades later, I've had an amazing career and the reasons I joined Mace still hold true today.
I chose to study civil engineering because it aligned with some of my academic strengths and because of my fascination about the world around me. Every minute of every day, people come into contact with the amazing work an engineer does. From turning on the tap in the morning, to commuting to work and spending time at home, engineering is all around us and makes a huge difference to everyone’s lives. That's why I chose construction.
What do you enjoy most about leading teams at Mace?
My role draws on my strengths and experiences from working across a variety of sectors, service offers and geographies. I'm able to use these skills to support talented teams in providing an excellent service to our clients. I really enjoy creating an environment where teams thrive and work hard to achieve both their own aspirations and team goals. We come to work as individuals; but together we are a lot more than the sum of our parts. It's hugely rewarding to be part of a high performing team.
What has been your proudest achievement at Mace?
I really enjoyed my time on The Venetian in Macau as it harnessed all the skills I had developed across project and programme management, and construction of a mega project. It was also my first overseas project. Having lived as an expat as a child, I really enjoyed moving overseas again and embracing the challenge.
What skills do you need to be good at your job?
Energy, enthusiasm and a passion for doing things right, always striving for excellence and pursuit of a better way. An ability to solve complex problems, blending intuition with an analytical approach. Strong communicator with developed stakeholder management skills help me to translate a client’s needs into a property or real estate solutions which deliver their objectives and aspirations.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into what you do?
I would say, “believe in yourself and you will fly as high as your dreams can take you”. From a more fundamental perspective, it depends on your age and where you are at in your career. STEM subjects are a huge help, particularly for a technical career, so for someone who is still at school, I would recommend taking science, technology, engineering and maths related subjects.
After that, go with your strengths and balance those with your values and aspirations. For me, travel and working in different countries was hugely important and has played a key part of my career, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Choose the path that works best for you, find a mentor, take lots of advice and don’t be scared to do what you want as opposed to what someone else wants - only you know what's best for you. Embrace every opportunity and don’t sit in your comfort zone.
What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I can solve a Rubik’s cube. How quick? Ask me.
Interested in starting your career with Mace? Check if they have any live roles and apply here.