Ibiza-based Natalie Brown is a Project Director who loves her work within the construction industry. She took some time out to talk to The Industry Leaders about how she got started in construction, and how staying connected to her network keeps her up to speed with the latest industry goings-on.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I spent the early part of my career working in admin roles in TV and advertising. Most of these roles involved managing some kind of office move or refurbishment. My biggest challenge was a complete office fit-out and relocation for a TV company. I loved managing the whole process from start to finish and handing over a beautiful, fully operational office to 200 staff.
From that point, I knew I wanted to be a project manager, and so I signed up for a Prince 2 course and was recommended for another role for a well-known advertising agency. I went on to complete another successful project for a rising tech company, and from there, I decided to set up my own consultancy. That was six years and almost 20 projects ago.
What kind of work does your role involve?
It can cover all aspects of a project; finding the perfect building for the client, resourcing the right project team, overseeing the design process and ensuring client approval, tendering the works and managing the budget - to name a few!
What gets you excited about your industry?
Construction is always moving and evolving. It's amazing to be part of developments in building and design, workplace strategy and furniture solutions that create better working environments.
The new office is so much more than "a place to work"; it needs to be flexible, social, collaborative and inspiring.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
As a child, I was always told two things:
"If you do your best it will always be good enough" and "never be late".
I believe that nobody can ask more than ones' 'best', and being on time is a fundamental part of managing a project.
What, or who inspires you?
I once heard the story of the Buddha Prince whilst on retreat in Ibiza. This taught me about accepting all of life's challenges with compassion and gratitude.
Being compassionate helps resolve conflict and encourage collaboration in sometimes challenging situations. Gratitude is a quality that tends to be mirrored by others and in turn, inspires patience and understanding.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in the industry?
Staying connected with my network of friends and colleagues.
I attended the WICE event last year, which was a great way to talk to like-minded professionals and support women in construction.
What was the most challenging project or assignment you've worked on?
All of my projects are challenging in different ways. The most challenging build so far was at Senate House, a grade II listed building, and home to the University of London.
We took a non-utilised courtyard and enclosed it within the heart of the workspace, connecting the whole of the ground and lower ground floors. A faceted structural glass roof and a new staircase now leads visitors from the ground floor entrance directly into the courtyard, further increasing the
movement and energy through the space.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would develop a space in Ibiza (where I currently live) that would incorporate an area for all kinds of workshops and classes in yoga, arts & crafts, mindfulness and alternative therapies, alongside a cafe with an amazing food offering.
It would be a hub for the community to come together, to meet, eat and enjoy.
And of course, I would travel the world!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I walk my two dogs who keep me active and entertained. Walking in the woods or down to the beach is the perfect way to wind down.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
To be more diverse. Times are changing, but construction is still significantly behind other industries, particularly when it comes to gender.
It would be great to have a fully inclusive and diverse construction industry.
How should people connect with you?
You can connect with me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalie-brown-1a83742b.