A day in the life of a Commercial Manager:
In honour of International Women’s Day and to celebrate women in construction week, Dthree’s Commercial Manager, Amber Murray talks us through her role and a typical day.
What are your outlined responsibilities
My role is basically everything pre-construction related, so essentially involves all aspects bar design, before the works go to site. I spend a lot of my time meeting with our clients to discuss budgets, survey the space with our subcontractors, and put together pre-construction and construction programmes in fitting with the clients timescales. Once the project has moved to the contract stage, I hand the project over to our project management team for the construction phase of their new office to begin!
Why the construction industry?
I used to work in main contracting as an estimator, a family friend who worked in construction actually recommended me. I had no previous experience in the industry but am always keen on new challenges! I was keen to learn as much as possible and by being in what was traditionally quite a masculine role made me even more eager to learn and shake things up for the better. As cliche as it sounds, I literally started from the bottom and worked my way up to where I am now and although I am still faced with new challenges every day, I am really proud of how far I have come.
I chose the construction industry for many reasons! One being that I love problem solving and have always been a bit of a geek for spreadsheets, so as sad as it sounds really enjoy that fact that I work with Excel creating solutions everyday. I also really liked the fact that I would be working closely with people everyday and helping them achieve their business goals. I am a massive people person and there is a real sense of fulfilment in working closely with a client to help them achieve their business goals. Finally, I have always enjoyed the fact that I work in what can be viewed as a male dominated role. There have been times when I will arrive at a site to survey the space for a client and they are pleasantly surprised that a female is going to be talking them through their mechanical and electrical requirements.
There is no such thing as a typical day, as every day varies depending on the project I am working on etc. One day could start in the office going through emails and cost plans, and another could be on a roof top in London looking at mechanical condensers. Generally, I wake up between 5.30-6.00 every morning. I usually check my diary first to mentally prepare myself for the day ahead and to plan for site meetings (which will also determine whether I will be wearing heeled or flat shoes). I then shower and dress in time to head out the door by 6:30 so I can get into the office nice and early before the morning rush! I live in Clapham Common so anyone from London will know you don’t get on the northern line after 8am between Monday and Thursday without being packed in like a sardine!
Being a creature of habit means every morning you will find me with a flat white and two scrambled eggs in the office. Much to my colleagues dislike, you will often find a packet of eggs on my desk waiting for me. Every project I work on me and my trusted subcontractors will visit the site before any costs are sent to the client.
So almost every day I have a speedy lunch on the go which normally consists of a quick sandwich from Pret as I run between meeting and site surveys. However, on Fridays (if my diary allows) my manager promotes us having a lunch together, to get away from our desks and socialise as a team.
Any challenges faced as a woman in construction?
Things have come a long way since traditional presumptions around women in construction, especially within commercial design and build. Construction was once and I am sure can still be at times seen as masculine industry. There have been many times where I will be assumed as a designer on a project, which doesn’t cause me any offence, its actually nice to be able to surprise people.
What have you learnt?
To never be afraid of asking questions. My role is all about transparency and accuracy, so if there is ever any doubt about anything, big or small, it is okay to ask for help. I am lucky that I am constantly surrounded by extremely talented people who have a lot of knowledge in the industry and are always willing to help. After all, to learn is to be better!
What are you most proud of at Dthree?
Being the only pre-construction at Dthree was at first quite daunting, but due to my passion and love for problem solving, I have come along way since joining and am really proud of what I have achieved so far. Every week we sit down as a company and the team hosts an employee of the week award which was recently rewarded to me. Being recognised by my peers and everyone celebrating my hard work was a massive for me, and really gave me the drive to continue to push myself further.
Who inspires you and why?
As a child my dad decided he wanted to go back to University to complete his degree in his late twenties/early 30’s, so my mum supported took on a full time role to support the family as well as looked after all four kids, so that my dad could get the career he always hoped for. My parents drive and love for one another not only demonstrated that it is never too late to be better and to chase your dreams but has always inspired me to be the best possible version of myself.
Advice to any women looking for a career within construction?
Go for it! With each generation barriers are being knocked down and women are succeeding in non-traditional career paths everyday, so don’t let the fear of stepping out of your comfort zone get in your way!