Ann Cheung, 30, is a senior consultant for Allott Project Management, Manchester.
Route to job
My first job in civil engineering was as a trainee engineer with Eve Transmission and Special Projects in the summer before I started my degree at Aston University. I completed a four year BEng course in civil engineering in 1992, got further site experience with Laing Civil Engineering and sponsorship for the latter part of my degree. After graduation I trained under agreement working on a number of heavy civil engineering projects. I became a chartered engineer in 1996 and since then I've worked on PFI infrastructure projects. I became interested in the earlier stages of construction procurement and the client view of things and that is what prompted me to move into consultancy and to apply for the job at Allott Project Management.
I was keen to be involved with the earlier stages of construction projects when a lot of the key decisions are taken. I was worried it might be difficult to change direction and that my previous experience might not be recognised as relevant but my concerns were unfounded. Allott Project Management's approach is to find people with potential and develop them. With a background in contracting I had expected to be heavily involved in client project management.
I have actually been working entirely in the project consultancy side of the business which is concerned primarily with the feasibility and procurement phases of projects, advising clients on project viability, appropriate construction procurement routes, risk and value management. I am currently working with the PFI Team at HQ British Forces Cyprus on the feasibility stage of the Cyprus Accommodation PFI Project. The work is highly demanding but equally rewarding. It has certainly met my aim of becoming more involved at the key decision stages of major projects.
When opportunities do not appear to have developed as you had expected it is important to re-assess whether they still meet your original ambitions. Keep the end result you want in mind. Also, when considering a change in your career, review your previous experience and identify the areas that will be relevant to your new direction. Do not automatically assume that your lack of direct experience will be a hindrance that will prevent a move between contracting and consultancy work. Finally, remember that to succeed you must take responsibility for your personal and career development.