This is part of a special report produced in partnership with Gleeds

An architect and design professional, as well as a project and business leader, Mace’s country director in Qatar, Tracey Hunte, has no shortage of experience or advice to share.

With more than two decades of experience – Hunte has worked in the Middle East, New Zealand, the US and the UK – her perspective on built environment careers is as well-informed and varied as you might imagine.

Tracey Hunte

“The way to flourish in varied cultural environments is to be more accepting of cultural differences,” she says.

“Once you can accept a different cultural context, it allows for you to succeed in that arena. It can’t be considered a hindrance – you need to work with the stakeholders; you need to operate in the same way but from a different perspective.”

Her built environment career began as an architect in Washington DC in the year 2000, followed by stints in New Zealand and Bahrain in various design and project roles.

>> Special report: Women in construction

Following a stint in the UK, the opportunity to join and subsequently lead Mace’s team in Qatar presented itself – an opportunity Hunte describes as among her greatest challenges and achievements.

“The role as country director for the business unit in Qatar has been a stretch for me, and of course it hasn’t been without its challenges,” she explains. “But it is the kind of stretch that is so rewarding. It’s been really, really rewarding to see the way colleagues from Mace both within the Middle East and wider business have been there to support me and the operations of the business here in Qatar.”

This ability to have others to learn and bounce ideas off is something she feels is very important for women in built environment careers.

“Mentorship is important, of course. But I believe it is important for women to have a diversity of mentors. People tend to stay within their comfort zone – they tend to look for someone who is a mirror reflection of themselves to mentor them,” she says.

“But we really should be looking for those who are different, whether from a gender perspective, cultural aspect, or those from a different background. That’s how we learn.”

She says this is also key to driving inclusion within businesses and the industry at large, as it creates links between a wide range of people.

That being said, Hunte also lists her experience with the Women for the Future group in 2021 – a selected cohort within Mace – as being particularly instrumental in her career. The group was designed to help participants reach their potential by building their skills, networks and confidence.

“It was meaningful to connect with others within the business who have similar goals, wanted to redefine their own boundaries and were prepared to be challenged as well as rewarded,” she says.

She adds that it has been great to look back and see the achievements of all those who had been in the group over the passing years.

Despite all her achievements in business, Hunte says that being a mother to her two daughters is the biggest achievement in her life. She says she takes every opportunity to share experiences with her daughters and goes into their schools quarterly to speak about her career and being a working mother.

“If my daughter turns to me when I’m off to a Google women’s workshop group and says, ‘Mum, when I grow up I want to be as strong as you are,’ that for me is a win,” she says.

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