In this month’s Meet a Member, Kwesi Amsterdam, design and build contractor in Guyana
Why did you choose the construction industry? What else might you have done for a living?
My professional career started off in teaching. The same year I completed secondary education I taught maths to grades 9 and 11 students and technical drawing. I attended classes in the afternoon to further expand my technical drawing (architecture and construction) skills.
These two activities continued simultaneously for two years and at the end of the technical drawing course, I enrolled at the university and pursued a BSc in Architecture. Because this was a full-time course, I had to resign from my teaching job.
I did not choose construction, it choose me. I ended up in the technical drawing class in high school because my friends were in that class. I had no clue or interest in technical drawing; I was just following the crowd. However, because one of my personal attributes is determination – always completing what I have started – I remained and persevered in those classes and grew to have an understanding and appreciation of the nature of technical drawing.
If I did not gravitate to the construction industry, I would have most likely remained in the teaching. In the near future. I will return to teaching/lecturing to give back to society my fair share of knowledge and experience gained over the years.
What do you like about the industry and what would you like to see change?
I love the satisfaction of a completed project and that every project is unique: it could be the design, the challenge it presents in thinking or methodology, the location that differs, or the attitude of the work force when measured against a new project or where a client is hard to deal with.
In my location, Latin America/Caribbean and more so in Guyana, there is a need for improved construction training. I think the custom of the day is that everyone is repeating the styles, patterns and approach learned over time. This means, if an error was practised in the past, it would become a normal and acceptable mistake of today.
I would therefore like to see a greater presence and involvement of CIOB locally, as a brand ambassador in construction training.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love movies and watch my favourites repeatedly. I also read: I’ve just finished The 7 Habits of Highly Effectively People by Stephen R Covey, and am currently reading Choice Theory by William Glasser MD.