Turner & Townsend quantity surveyor Tanya Jeffrey on how the latest leg of a globe-trotting career has taken her to a silicon chip plant in tropical Borneo
How has your career path taken you all the way to Borneo?
I joined Turner & Townsend straight from university and have worked with the company in South Africa and London. I've always been intrigued by the Far East, so two years ago I requested to be transferred to Asia. I wanted to work in a new place and face new challenges, so when a project came up in this part of the world I jumped at the chance.

Do you feel your time in Borneo will improve your career prospects?
The main thing is that it is interesting from a personal perspective. From a work point of view, I'm having a very diverse experience working with highly educated experts from around the world because the project is so specialised – we've been working on a factory that will make silicon chips. It's actually already operational, so I'm now just checking that all the mechanical and electrical systems are hooked up properly.

To what extent have you had to adapt your working practices?
I am working with a few people from Borneo but most of us on the project come from elsewhere; my colleagues are from the US, Korea, China and Australia – to name just a few of the countries. This means I am dealing with many different cultures, each with their own protocols. You have to bear this in mind and respect that people do have their own approach to work – it's very inspiring. Luckily for me, English is our common language so I don't have too many communication problems.

I am dealing with many different cultures, each with their own protocols. You have to respect other people’s approaches

What has been the most difficult thing about your move to Borneo?
Deciding to go! I also had a moment when I wondered what I'd let myself in for as I stepped off the plane at Borneo's airport and felt myself walking into a wall of heat – it was 35 °C. But I've had a wonderful experience and have taken the time to explore the country's fantastic rainforests.

Personal details

Johannesburg, South Africa
Current job
Commercial manager with construction and management consultant Turner and Townsend
Employment history
Joined Turner and Townsend as assistant QS in 1995, straight after university. Promoted to commercial manager in 2000
Degree in quantity surveying from Johannesburg University
Kuching, Borneo