Marie Lelue speaks to Lucy Jolin about going from studying in Paris to managing projects in Newcastle
How did you get to where you are today?
I studied building project management in Paris and did a work placement with Turner & Townsend last year. It was a good placement for me because it was pure project management – and no French companies were doing anything similar to what I wanted. After the placement, Turner & Townsend asked me to come back and work for them. I was happy to do that as I am working on Newcastle Great Park, an 80 ha business and technology park that is one of the biggest in the North-east. I find it very stimulating.

What attracted you to a career in construction?
I've wanted to be involved in the industry in some way since I was 12. I wanted to be an interior designer at first, but then I wanted to do a more general course and not be so specialised. Project management has a very wide range and gives you a great general understanding of construction.

You've travelled a lot – has that helped you in your work?
Very much. After I finished studying in Paris I had the opportunity to study design in South Africa. It's always very useful to see the international aspects of what you are doing, and what is being done in other countries.

Have you experienced any sexism?
No, not really. Being a project manager is not like being a site manager. I think my job is one of the more accessible for women in the industry.

Why do you think there are not more women in construction?
I think they don't try hard enough. Also this industry does have image problems. People's perceptions need to change. We're starting to see that but there is still a long way to go. There should be more information available to people about what we're really like. You don't see many women in public view who are happy doing jobs in construction.

What are your hopes for the future?
For the moment my future is in Newcastle. I'm really enjoying the challenge of this project. At some point I would like to do more travelling – maybe to work on international projects – but I don't think that's practical at the moment. I want to get more professional experience first. I'm trying to be more confident with what I've learned and then I can put it into practice and make an assessment about where I want to be.

What's the most important thing you've learned so far?
How to react and interact with people and keep things going when everyone is under pressure. Pressure is a big part of my job. You need to know how to behave in difficult situations.

Name Marie Lelue
Age 26
Job Project manager, Turner & Townsend
Curriculum vitae Marie studied construction project management in her native Paris and spent her one-year practical placement in Newcastle with T&T. During that year she was heavily involved in the Newcastle Great Park project, among others. She completed her course last year and joined T&T’s project management division in Newcastle.
Lives Northshields, Newcastle Upon Tyne