The industry includes an impressive variety of roles – but unless you are on the inside it can be hard to know how to break in, let alone progress to the top. In this new series,  we talk to professionals about their often surprising career twists and turns

BTFC 3x2

How long have you been working and what is your current job?

I have worked at McLaren Construction (major projects) since March 2022 as an assistant quantity surveyor. Before this I worked as a qualified management accountant (MAAT), gaining more than five years’ experience within the industry.  


What were your first career ambitions? (Would your 16-year-old former self be surprised at what you’re doing now?) 

I always had an interest in buildings and initially had ambitions to become an architect (until I realised the 7+ years it would take). Throughout my GCSE’s I decided University wasn’t the route I wanted to take and started exploring apprenticeships offered and vocational qualifications to gain hands-on experience. 

When did you first start thinking about a career in construction and why? 

As I got older, more and more people around me seemed to be involved in the construction sector. McLaren’s emphasis on sustainable building practices and cutting-edge technologies drew me in, offering a chance to work collaboratively and make a positive impact.  

Who or what helped you get where you are today? 

Following a conversation with our managing director, John Butten, I started to explore the various roles within construction looking into estimating, surveying and design. After researching the role of quantity surveyor, I realised it was a job with elements I enjoy and provided the collaborative working environment I desired.  

Did your choice of subjects/qualifications in education help or hinder you getting a job in the sector? 

Although not the conventional route, my accountancy qualifications and experience have in fact helped me with my current job. They provided me with valuable skills in financial management, which are now complemented by my understanding of construction practices and implementation to help further my career progression within McLaren.  

Have you had to overcome any other barriers to get where you are today? 

McLaren gave me the opportunity to continue my studies and attend university.  I therefore made the decision to return to university over six years after graduating from college. I have now completed the first year towards a BSc in quantity surveying and commercial management. My advice to anyone who is thinking of returning to studying is to go for it! It’s not too late.  

What do you know now about the industry that you wish you knew when you were at school? 

The sheer variety of different roles within the construction industry. Having attended apprenticeship fairs on behalf of McLaren, it is clear that many school leavers do not know the different jobs and options for career progression that are available. 

What surprised you about the industry as a new starter? 

The positive social environment. You aren’t just collaborating with your colleagues, but a variety of stakeholders including sub-contractors, the client and consultants. McLaren encourages us to build relationships which in turn can aid your own career progression as well as being beneficial for the company.  

What are the best and hardest bits of your job? 

No day is the same in construction – this is both the best and hardest part of the job. The job is always progressing and there is no more rewarding feeling than seeing the progress being achieved and knowing that you are a part of that big picture. However, you must also be prepared to tackle any issues that arise unexpectedly. Construction can be unpredictable at times.  

For someone coming through the school system now, what advice do you have about choosing a construction-related career? 

Choosing a construction-related career can be a rewarding decision, as the industry offers a wide range of opportunities and potential for growth. My advice would be to try and gain some work experience. McLaren along with many other companies offer work experience and the chance to get a feel for what it is like on site. No two sites are the same, however you will have an opportunity to become part of the team and get a feel for the various job roles offered.  

What one thing would you change to make finding a career in the built environment sector easier? 

My advice would be to setup a LinkedIn profile and start networking. Connect with recruitment companies specialising in the construction industry, as well as individuals working within your desired role/company. It’s an easy way to discover the opportunities available.