The design manager at the construction company talks about the rewards of working in construction and ambitions to become a director.
Tell us about how you got into construction? What else might you have done?
At secondary school I had a keen interest in buildings, and I completed work experience with an architect. This interest developed into design and I completed a BDes (Hons) Interior & Environmental Design at University of Dundee. After graduating I worked in Scotland and at home in Northern Ireland in design and contractor roles.
After a few years I had the opportunity to work in Macau SAR China, which launched me into the international world of construction on multi-billion-dollar projects. Working for architect Aedas, I had a site-based role on two Sheraton Hotel Towers.
“It’s a demanding, fast-paced industry, which I really enjoy, and the rewards for me are the learning and the relationships you build working as a team on each project.”
Danielle Gillespie MCIOB, Gilbert-Ash
There is no better place to gain invaluable construction knowledge than on site, seeing all elements of the build come together. After completion, I moved client side and changed roles to design manager working on hotel brands Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott.
After moving home, I was keen to find a design manager role. I was fortunate to join the team at Gilbert-Ash, working on diverse projects, from hotels to a performing arts school and my most recent project, the restoration of a Grade II-listed building which will be used as art galleries when it completes next month.
I could not imagine working in any other industry, however at one point I had considered a law career, although this is being fulfilled by the construction law element of my MSc.
What do you find challenging about this industry? And what is rewarding?
The challenge for me is sometimes achieving a good balance between work and home life as construction is not a 9-5 job.
It’s a demanding, fast-paced industry, which I really enjoy, and the rewards for me are the learning and the relationships you build working as a team on each project. Handing over to a happy client is also very rewarding.
What are your career ambitions?
I achieved my MCIOB in May last year and I am studying part-time towards an MSc Construction and Project Management at Queen’s University, Belfast, but one day I would hope I could progress to director level within Gilbert-Ash.