Audrey McIver tells Building about coffee at meetings, secret tunnels, and talking to herself

McIver, Audrey

What has been your biggest career challenge? 

Surprisingly, some of my biggest challenges have not necessarily been technical challenges, but have been around building/repairing relationships and establishing trust. Working with others to achieve the best project outcome can be tricky and can make technical challenges seem straightforward in comparison.

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be? 

I would improve the coffee served at meetings. It is a relatively easy fix and would make life better for us all.

Coffee meeting shutterstock_453762286

Source: Shutterstock

Why did you choose your career? 

I fell into it really. The 18-year-old me could not decide what degree to do; engineering seemed like a flexible choice and civil engineering an interesting branch of it. Roads, bridges, buildings, tunnels – all great stuff! I also applied to study speech therapy and often wonder how different my life would have been if I had gone down that path.

What are you most proud of working on? 

The work I’ve done on Southbank Place. I had to lead a design team spread out all over the world and at times the pressure was intense

What’s the most helpful advice you’ve been given? 

It’s not what you say but how you say it.


St Basils Cathedral


Which famous building do you wish you had worked on? 

The Pentagon or the Kremlin (above), or the MI5 building – so I would know all about the secret tunnels and spy tech.

Which building do you most dislike? 

Buildings which are designed as objects.

What is your secret skill? 

I used to do voice-overs for TV news clips and read the news on the radio.

Voiceover equipment shutterstock_1187192575

Source: Shutterstock

What is your best quality? 

I keep going till the bitter end.

And the trait you most dislike about yourself? 

I walk around talking to myself!

What’s it like being you?

I’m ambitious and opportunistic; it feels strange saying that because both qualities are generally used as insults when applied to women. We should challenge that!

Who do you most admire in the construction industry?

As a designer, I have a huge respect for people on site doing the actual building work – they are the people who really make buildings happen.

What’s your most prized possession?

I can’t seem to think of anything. It seems I am disturbingly un-attached to my possessions.