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News & opinion

3 APR 2020

Inspirational women in construction and infrastructure around the world

Gus Bussmann

Gus Bussmann

Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator

RICS

Following Marcia Ferrari’s valuable contribution on gender diversity in the Latin American infrastructure sector, we now share inspirational stories of women around the world who are making a difference and changing the future of the profession.

Marcia reminded us that creating space that enable other women to occupy higher steps of the ladder leads to  better discussions around the topic, more profit for companies, and creative technical solutions for everyday problems. It means women can be acknowledged for their performances, regardless of gender.

Marcia Ferrari
Marcia Ferrari

Saudi Arabia

Similar strategy can be seen was in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where a historically male-dominated surveying industry is gradually attracting more female surveyors. This is supported by national strategies such as the Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to increase women empowerment and economic participation from 17 per cent to 25 per cent by 2030. From theme parks and metro lines to the world's tallest structure, there are more than 5000 capital projects worth over $1.6 tn in the pipeline.

A role model in the region, Onrad Matarutse is an RICS-accredited chartered surveyor and cost manager at Turner and Townsend in KSA, who is currently working on the Red Sea Project.

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Onrad Matarutse
Onrad Matarutse

‘I consult for The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), alongside a wonderful and supportive team of chartered quantity surveyors. Our team is responsible for the astute financial stewardship of The Red Sea Project during the pre and post-contract phase. We use the latest cost management software to deliver cost plans, estimates and undertake value engineering at various design stages, to advise our client on how best to meet the financial expectations.

Canada

From Toronto, Marie Foley reminds us that the barriers women face aren’t always easy to see, but you can spot them by looking closely. Another source of inspiration,  Marie is a member of RICS, the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, and is a LEED accredited professional.  Marie Foley leads BTY’s North American P3 team.

Personality traits we value and compliment in men, she says, ‘are often negatively referred to when demonstrated by women. We often describe women in senior positions as bossy, opinionated, cold or direct. When we are critical of another woman’s work, we are catty, jealous, have a personality conflict. We rarely use these terms for men leaders, we use clear, decisive, focused – a leader.’

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Marie Foley
Marie Foley

Hong Kong

We can also learn from Candy Lai, who has excelled herself in Hong Kong’s construction industry . She is a director and regional GPMO lead in Arcadis Asia. She is an account leader responsible for service quality, resource performance and financial performance across programme, project and cost management.

She said, ‘Don’t be afraid to try something new and broaden your experience with an open mind, you never know where it may take you.

'Set tangible goals by developing a  three to five year career plan with your mentor, which can be reviewed every year, or as often as you’d like. Have a mentor who can help your career planning and give you guidance. Don’t be afraid to set your goals higher than you think possible, then work backwards to plot your path towards that goal.'

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Candy Lai
Candy Lai

When you feel your career is not progressing, do not give up, make time to understand your strengths and weaknesses and use the downtime to upskill yourself and try to explore other opportunities. Take checkpoints at times to analyse your situation and ensure you are pointing in the right direction.

United Kingdom

Joanna Farnsworth MRICS started her journey in the profession at the age of 14 on a work experience placement at a quantity surveying practice and is now a commercial manager at Galliford Try. She offered our readers a piece of advice:

‘My advice to other women considering a career in surveying or construction is to be yourself, don't try and fit in. A diverse workforce is representative of the communities and customers we work with and we should recognise and celebrate our differences as a positive. My advice to anyone at any level in the industry is question everything, a simple question can start a great conversation that could impact on the scheme or someone's wellbeing.’

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Joanna Farnsworth
Joanna Farnsworth

USA

Georgia Bergers MRICS also stands out in the construction industry. It’s not simply because women are traditionally underrepresented in the field, it’s because she thrives on seeing people succeed against the status quo. A true diversity champion, she told us:

 ‘RICS works within an industry that is inherently diverse,’ she said. ‘Diversity and inclusion is one of the board initiatives I’m pleased is a priority item. We want to see inclusive business practices become the norm in order to make entering and remaining in the profession easier. Research tells us that diverse teams outperform homogenous teams both in terms of critical reasoning capacity and profit results. Happier and more diverse employees are simply good business and will help to create cities that are built for everyone.’

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Georgia Bergers
Goergia Bergers
Gus Bussmann

Gus Bussmann

Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator

RICS

Dr Gus Bussmann is the Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator at RICS and works with the Head of Future Talent to ensure the successful delivery of the D&I strategy. Gus is also Deputy Head of Policy at Pride in London and an acknowledged expert in LGBT rights, committed to support with understanding and to inspire the next generation’s activities and initiatives.