Chimwemwe Lungu tells us why she left Malawi to study and work in British construction
What attracted you to construction?
My dad's a contractor at home in Malawi, so I became interested by seeing the work he does. He encouraged me to go into the industry. When I started my degree, there were only about five female QSs in Malawi – I liked the fact that by choosing to have a career in construction I would be challenging people's perceptions. It was not considered a normal career for a girl when I chose to do it.

Why did you decide to study in Britain?
It was actually my parents who first suggested I come here. It was a choice between Britain and America – but they don't have quantity surveying degrees in America and the British system is more well-respected. The British education system is one of the best in the world, and a degree from Britain is very well-recognised and respected in Africa. And I wanted to experience a different culture; I was interested in British life and the diversity Britain has to offer.

How did you get your job with Turner & Townsend?
I had a six-month placement in their Malawi office before I went to university. Then I did summer work placements with them while I was studying. After that, I took a year out and then joined Turner & Townsend last year. I've been working part-time while I study for a masters degree, which is on research in innovation and improvement in construction and property.

Why did you decide to carry on studying and do a masters degree?
I have always been interested in doing research, and I am interested in finding new ways of doing things for construction. I thought this course could be useful to my company as well – Turner & Townsend does a lot of research. I am in my first year, so I have got another 18 months to go.

What do you enjoy most about your current job?
I love the variety and the type of projects – very high-profile, complex projects. I also like the team aspect and meeting lots of people from different backgrounds. And it's great to work on something from start to finish and see the results of your efforts take shape.

Do you plan to stay in Britain?
Ideally I would like to stay with Turner & Townsend but move to one of their African offices – the weather here is too cold! I can't get used to it. And I'd like to work in South Africa when I become chartered and have had some more experience.

Chimwemwe Lungu

Age 24
Lives Manchester
Qualifications BSc in quantity surveying, University of Salford. Currently studying part-time for a masters of research in innovation and improvement in construction and property
Career history Joined Turner & Townsend as a cost manager in 2002
Hobbies Listening to music – especially slow stuff and R&B. Also socialising and meeting new people.