Arup's Tara Durnin explains how she went from wannabe French teacher to technology consultant
Why did you become an information and communications technology (ICT) consultant in the building industry?
Good question! I originally wanted to become a French teacher. However, during a college work placement, I soon discovered computers and developed an interest in technology and the power it has to transform business processes.

Where did you go for career advice?
I can't recall seeking advice at a young age. But over the course of my career I have had plenty of advice from my peers and my clients!

Where and what did you study?
I took an unusual path to my current job. I actually studied French after secondary school on a two-year diploma course (one year based in my home town of Dublin and one based in France). During one of my work placements as part of this course I developed a keen interest in technology and the idea of teaching went away (I also figured there was probably more money in IT than teaching!). I moved to London and got a job as a bilingual helpdesk assistant (at a big engineering plant) and my career grew from there. I quickly moved from answering calls and logging problems to fixing them. My first job at Arup was as network support analyst and during this time I went to evening classes at the University of Westminister to study Communications and IT applications.

What was your best project?
Toronto International Airport. The Airport Development Project at Toronto was the biggest construction project in Canada at the time. I joined the project at end of 1999, as the project was moving into the detailed design stage. Along with my colleagues in the Arup New York office we worked hard to convince the client to deploy technology solutions that were new to the aviation industry. Mitigating and managing risks associated with the deployment of technology was challenging and extremely rewarding when the effort gets recognised.

You've worked on projects in various countries. What are key differences?
North American construction projects tend be more aggressive (although I am now working on a large construction project in China and I am rapidly learning the meaning of FAST!). Other key differences are the work stages, in the UK we follow RIBA, whereas in the US and Canada the stages are split up and there is a greater level of detail required earlier in the process.

Have you got any advice for people thinking of using an ICT consultant?
Get them in early in the Design Process - ICT can and will influence the design.

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    Tara Durnin

    Job Principal ICT consultant, Arup Communications
    Age 34
    Employment history Tara has worked for Arup for the past 11 years in various countries
    Lives Balham, south London
    Interests Cycling, skiing, travelling to exotic locations and sampling London’s many wine bars