UKCES has published its Careers of the Future, setting out a range of jobs that can become great careers for young people thinking about their future at work. We talked to a range of people already involved in those careers, and we will tell their stories on this blog and on Twitter over the next week. Follow us here or at #careersofthefuture for more.
Khouloud El Hakim, construction project manager, Crossrail
First off, could you introduce yourself and give us your age and job title?
My name is Khouloud El Hakim, I am 27 years old, and I am the MEP [mechanical, electrical, plumbing] Package Manager on Crossrail Farringdon Station.
How does your job title translate into day to day work?
I oversee the interfaces between the station contractor, system contractors and Crossrail’s central engineering team. I also oversee the technical and quality aspects of MEP design and site installation. I work with the different Crossrail teams to understand the scope of upcoming change, and try to mitigate impact on cost and program. Day to day, I support the team in achieving key milestones though resolving technical and commercial issues and providing guidance on how to comply with Crossrail’s requirements, processes and procedures.
What does an average day entail?
Most issues on the project involve several parties; usually coming together to resolve a problem and agree the way forward is the most efficient way to gain resolution. Most of my days involve a couple of Crossrail internal and interface meetings. I review technical submissions, review program implications and support the business team in resolving commercial issues. I discuss and agree with the team the best way to resolve changes and follow up on actions. I spend time on site to review the quality of MEP installation work. I also spend time learning about new processes and technical concepts and providing input into new ones under development. I sit on working groups involved with diversity, employee engagement and unconscious bias and feed into these.
What are the key skills you need to do your job?
Leadership skills, communication and influence without authority are all key aspects.
What is it the most fascinating aspect of your job?
The complexity of the work and the fact that you are influencing the design of a project which will have massive implications on people’s lives and the whole economy is fascinating.
And the most unusual?
I work with people from across the organization, in the same day I can be working on site in the morning and then meeting with very senior managers in the organization in the afternoon. Each group requires a different skill set, and having to adjust and earn the respect of everyone on the job is unusual but most interesting to me.
What led you to where you are now? Have you always aimed to be in this role?
I joined Bechtel as part of the graduate scheme and since then I have worked on a variety of projects in a variety of positions. This position was the perfect fit for my career development objectives as I am aiming for CEng qualification with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
What inspired you to get into this career?
At school, I was good at sciences and maths and when I came to apply to university, I was able to meet the requirements for engineering school so I was happy to be admitted. As I learned more about the career options upon graduation, I wanted a challenging career which allows me to travel the world and work on meaningful mega projects. I didn’t want to be stuck doing the same job every day. Working in an international construction company achieved exactly what I wanted.
What qualifications did you get, or realise you needed, to be where you are?
I have a BEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering, I am also an IEng with the IET.
How long did it take to get to where you are now?
What one piece of advice would you have given your younger self?
Develop the soft skills early, get engaged in as many initiatives as you can. Learn new sport, get involved in charities and lead events. All these acquired skills are fundamental to make you stand out amongst peers.
What advice would you offer anyone looking to follow a similar career?
Diversify your knowledge, learn another language or get another degree or a minor in a different subject. It is a very competitive world and these are differentiators that will open up opportunities.
How do you think your job will change in the future?
I will be looking to learn about new industries and progress my career participating in major infrastructure projects worldwide.