Pauline Lagan - Project management with AECOM

Pauline Lagan

Team: Project Management

Office: Southampton

Apprenticeship Level: 6

Studying: Construction Management, University College of Estates Management

Hi, I’m Pauline and I work within the Project Management team at AECOM in our Southampton office. Alongside my work, I’m studying a level 6-degree apprenticeship in Construction Management at the University College of Estates Management.

What does your role entail?

My role has continued to grow in a short period of time since I first joined the Project Management team April 2018. Initially, I was tasked with assisting my colleagues with the provision of full Project Management services, including project administration, the production of project execution plans, project update reports, project programmes and risk registers, as well as scheduling meetings and issuing agendas/minutes. Having gained more knowledge and experience across a variety of market sectors, including secondments to the public sector, and from shadowing my team over the past two years, I am almost autonomously managing my own project. This includes chairing and minuting my own meetings, liaising directly with the Client and acting as the main correspondent between the Client and Contractor, whilst appropriately administering and adhering to the contract.

In addition to my role, I have assumed the position of Local Safety Officer for the Southampton office, and my responsibilities include the safety, security and wellbeing of all colleagues within the workplace in accordance with AECOM policies and procedures.

What has been your favourite project?

My favourite project so far is Southampton City Council’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) - Regeneration Scheme which was introduced to improve the energy efficiency and external appearances of existing council properties across Southampton. I hold strong views when it comes to sustainability and was pleased that this was my first project, which has since led to more work of a similar scope with the Council as a result.

I was also recently seconded to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for a short period of time to support the Station Investment Programme. This is one of their largest projects yet, which involved assisting the property and facilities team with the proposed study and specifications of various fire station upgrades, or where necessary, replacements. This opportunity has strengthened my experience in the public sector and given me the ability to support other public sector projects with confidence.

Why did you choose AECOM?

After finishing up my A-Levels, I decided to take a gap year and get a job. The gap year turned into gap years and eventually I decided I wanted a career change and revisited the idea of University. By chance, an apprenticeship with AECOM was recommended to me.

Apprenticeships seem to be the modern way of studying by providing you with the ability to study, work and gain experience all at the same time. Not only were AECOM prepared to put me through University, but they encouraged me to go one step further and enrol in a RICS accredited degree, which upon completion will enable me to undertake the Assessment of Professional Competence (RICS APC) – a highly regarded professional accreditation in the industry.

What development support have you achieved on the apprentice programme?

I had little experience in the construction industry prior to AECOM, but with dedicated support from my team and line manager I have become more knowledgeable and more confident in my skills with each project I take on. Our office leads are always encouraging us as apprentices to be our best selves, to own our roles and to get our names ‘out there’. In the short time I have been here, I have volunteered for several opportunities and I am grateful for all that I have achieved with their support and guidance.

The Early Careers Team also provides advice and encourages all apprentices and graduates to take part in the Advance Programme, which brings apprentices from all over the UK&I together for events so we can build our connections.

What is the social scene like at AECOM?

There is never a dull day at AECOM, particularly in our office! Throughout the year, our office leads and the engagement team are constantly organising events and socials and encouraging the whole office to take part. Every quarter, we have an office team meeting followed by a staff social, and in between these socials, we have our own team gatherings.

There are also various other events that we are encouraged to attend which include professional networking, team building days, yoga / fitness lunchtime sessions and, more importantly, charity events and CSR days. Our office runs various fundraisers for our annually chosen charity, and these include numerous bake sales, touch rugby, football and dodgeball tournaments, and bikeathons to name only a few.

Have you had the opportunity to be involved in any corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

CSR is a part of AECOM’s Social Value policy, and we are inspired to use 2 working days a year to support local charities, communities and small businesses. In my short time here, I have volunteered to take part in the Royal Victoria Park beach clean-up, woodland management at Zionshill Copse Local Nature Reserve, and repair and maintenance at FLE Fishery.

In addition, as part of my apprenticeship goals, I have enrolled as a STEM Ambassador (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and I am expected to attend career fairs, schools and workshops to promote, mentor and encourage young people towards a career in our industry.

What advice would you give students considering applying to AECOM?

I’d highly recommend choosing an apprenticeship with AECOM. They offer a variety of job roles through the apprenticeship pathway, providing you with plenty of options to choose from anywhere across the UK.

The support I have received from the office, the Early Careers Team, my fellow apprentices and AECOM overall, has been outstanding. I have had no doubt that I have made the right choice and am confident in where my career will lead as it is clearly mapped out for me throughout my apprenticeship. Yes, the apprenticeship is hard work, and upon completion of it the rest is up to me, however, the apprenticeship is already giving me the tools and exposure I need to become a strong project manager capable of contributing to and effecting change in our industry – and that’s an exciting prospect.

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