Dina El Daly is a Senior Cost Manager at JLL in the United Arab Emirates. In this interview she tells us about the importance of education and continual development in her journey to being a leader in the construction industry.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
It's been a 13-year journey. I studied architecture but chose to work in quantity surveying after being introduced to the profession while still in academia.
I started in Egypt, my home country, with a local company then moved to an international firm. Quantity surveying in Egypt during that time was not as popular as it is today, and I was lucky to work on mega projects there. I then moved to Dubai to achieve my goal to be a Chartered Quantity Surveyor which I am today. The large scale projects I worked on in the Middle East exposed me to unique experiences and challenges which have helped my career to develop.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The construction industry is full of surprises (good ones!).
It may seem that the experience is being repeated from project to project, but every project is full of different challenges, which makes it more exciting. Constructing buildings is also building history; the ancients recorded their presence with the structures they left behind.
It feels amazing to see a building coming to life from only sketches or drawings and then seeing it completed and in-use. These are the footprints that we are leaving to the next generations.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
"Don't stop learning". No matter how old or experienced you become, you should never stop learning and developing yourself.
As part of being chartered, I have to record my continuous professional development each year, which highlights the importance of constant learning as an industry professional.
What, or who inspires you?
My father is my inspiration. He's a civil engineer, and he's the most ethical person I have ever met. He was the first to teach me about ethics and behaviours and how this can make a change in the world.
One of his lessons to me was "lead by example". His logic is always to leave a good impact behind you, so people still believe that there is still goodness in the world.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
In short: by learning and continuous professional development. The construction industry is full of innovations, and the best way to keep up with what's happening is by keeping your knowledge up to speed.
Whether this is achieved by reading or attending seminars, I feel lucky when I work on a project using recent technologies because it makes me explore and learn more about emerging industry technology.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
It was a roller coaster project that was designed to break world records. Up to that point in my career, I'd worked on residential, office blocks, malls and hotel projects. A roller coaster project was a first for me!
I had to read a lot about roller coaster technologies and how these structures were put together. This was something new to me, and it was an exciting thing to learn.
If you could start your life again, what would you do differently?
I would start learning earlier. By learning, I mean developing myself after finishing my college years. Sometimes you get caught up in your daily routine and forget to develop yourself. I would have started developing myself earlier and worked more on this aspect of my life.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Of course, I would buy a private jet!
But I would also build my own construction consultancy business with a focus on developing younger generations. I would allow my younger employees to develop themselves and make all the necessary learning tools available to them. This opportunity was something I wished I had when I was younger.
Lastly, I would also start a charity foundation for education.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
As a mother of two, going back to my family is a great switch off. It's very important to balance your career and family life.
Exercising and working out is also essential to me, as exercising is beneficial not only for my body but also my mind.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
Sustainability. I would wish to see this industry become sustainable while saving our planet's resources.
How should people connect with you?
You're welcome to contact me via my LinkedIn account: http://linkedin.com/in/dina-el-daly-mrics-05140a37