My journey into Quantity Surveying
To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2018, we are publishing a series of features celebrating talented young women in the civil engineering sector.
Stacey McArdle is a Graduate Quantity Surveyor with Balfour Beatty. Earlier this year, Stacey won Most Promising Trainee Quantity Surveyor at our CECA Scotland Emerging Talent Awards, receiving her award from Scottish comedian Craig Hill.
Thanks to Stacey for taking the time to tell us about her career journey so far, what her job involves and the challenges and opportunities for women and girls considering a career in in the engineering sector.
How did you get into the industry?
From a young age, I was interested in the design aspect of buildings and dreamed of being an architect. I loved the drawing side of graphic communication at high school so architecture as a career made sense. In my 4th year of high school, all students undertook a 1 week work placement as part of the curriculum. For my placement, I went to an Architecture Office and even though I thoroughly enjoyed the placement, I left knowing that I wanted to work in the Construction Industry, but perhaps not as an architect.
Following this, Balfour Beatty began work to demolish and re-construct my high school. We could clearly see the works taking place from the classroom windows, and it was inspiring to be surrounded by construction on a daily basis. At the end of my fifth year, Balfour Beatty sponsored an award for excellence in technology at my High School’s award ceremony. I was the lucky winner of this, and after discussions with the Balfour Beatty team, I managed to secure myself a 2 week summer placement to shadow different roles (including QS, design managers, programmers, project managers etc). From this, Quantity Surveying was the role that I enjoyed most.
I returned to school to complete my final year, during which I applied for Quantity Surveying courses at University. I was accepted to study at Glasgow Caledonian University. After I completed my 1st year as a full-time student, I was contacted by Balfour Beatty who offered me a 3 month paid summer placement. I completed this and was offered a job upon completion which I accepted. I returned to University as a part time student, undertaking my studies whilst working for Balfour Beatty and 3 years later I graduated.
Following graduation, my line manager nominated me to become CECA Scotland’s Most Promising Trainee Quantity Surveyor for 2017 – an award that I went on to win!
What does your job as a Quantity Surveyor involve?
I always tell people that Quantity Surveyors deal with the commercial and contractual side of project. I procure Sub-Contractors for works and prepare Sub-Contract Orders. I measure and value the works carried out on site and submit valuations to the Clients as well as paying any Subcontractors for the works. I also price up any variations and am responsible for forecasting costs for the project
What are the best aspect of your job?
I really enjoy getting to work on a wide variety of projects. Since starting to work in the industry, I’ve got to work on a Search and Rescue Helicopter Hangar Project, a Highways Maintenance Project, a Marine Research Facility Project, an Office Refurbishment Project and I’ve just recently become involved with a Regional Performance Centre for Sport Project. No two projects are ever the same, so there’s always something to learn which keeps the job interesting. I also really enjoy the opportunity to get out on site. While I do spend some of my time working within an office, it is fun to be able to visit sites and see projects come to life, knowing that you’ve been involved with getting the project to this stage.
What extra challenges have you faced as a woman in construction?
Personally, I haven’t faced any major challenges. Everyone I’ve met or worked with within the industry has been welcoming and helpful. But despite this, people outside of the industry are usually surprised when I tell them I work within construction. I don’t see this as a challenge to me personally but I think it highlights that people generally still see construction as a male industry. Changing this perception is a massive challenge for the industry as a whole.
What advice would you give to young girls considering a career in the sector?
If it’s something you want to do, go for it! Don’t be put off by the stigma that it’s a male industry and that you’ll be held back. From my experience, people are treated equally and fairly regardless of gender.