07 Jul 2017
The Next Generation issue›
A chance meeting with a recruitment consultant on a plane journey led Laura Collins MRICS to consider a career in quantity surveying. She has since gone on to become Mace Group's youngest ever associate director and win Quantity Surveyor of the Year at the Women in Construction and Engineering Awards 2016. Laura tells us how she got so far so quickly in her own words.
When I was a child, my parents were always busy buying up properties to renovate, so I guess their work ended up being a huge influence on my future path, but at 18, I had no idea what to do for a career.
By chance, my mum met a construction recruitment agent on a plane journey, who recommended I go for an interview at Davis Langdon Mott Green Wall (now part of Aecom) for their academy programme. I went for it, and it involved studying for a distance-learning degree in quantity surveying at the College of Estate Management, while working full time.
Working and studying at the same time was stressful, but I gained an enormous amount of experience at a young age. I graduated in 2010 and in my final year I went straight on to Davis Langdon’s graduate development programme. I had fantastic support from family and colleagues during the APC and, a year later, I became chartered at 23 — one of the youngest in the world at the time. In late 2012, I moved to cost consultant Mace; it was a difficult decision to leave Davis Langdon after six years, but I needed to shake off my trainee status. Three years later, at 28, I became Mace’s youngest associate director.
I was immensely proud to be awarded Quantity Surveyor of the Year at the 2016 Women in Construction and Engineering (WICE) Awards. I was pregnant at the time, so it proves your career doesn’t have to go on hold if you choose to have a family. I’ve recently returned from maternity leave, and I’m now leading on construction projects from a cost perspective, as well as cost planning mechanical, electrical and plant installations for workplaces and fit-outs.
I’m a keen advocate of women in construction and how it should be easier to pursue both a family and a career. I recently graduated from Mace’s Women of the Future programme, which is trialling smart-working methods to help women in the industry build their skills, networks and confidence, as well as provide support for working mothers.
I hope to teach my daughter to worry less about fitting into glass slippers, and more about shattering glass ceilings.
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