Accreditation for Project Controls Professionals

Isla Gordon
Professional recognition is an important assurance of our competence, credibility and quality services. We’re now supporting our project controls teams to attain the ACostE QCF accreditations. It’s a great addition to our well-established RICS and APM pathways.

I’m a planning engineer and I’m proud to have recently attained the Association of Cost Engineers (ACostE) QCF Level 5 Diploma in Planning Practice. This brings together many elements of my experience as a planner, and demonstrates the high quality service I provide to my clients.

It’s taken me around nine years to get to this stage. I studied product design at Edinburgh Napier University and then joined a small offshore architectural firm, as a project controls assistant. Three years later I joined AMEC’s trainee planner scheme, working first in oil & gas, then in the nuclear sector. I was keen to further my career in nuclear, and this led me to apply to Faithful+Gould, successfully becoming an intermediate planning engineer in 2015. Although part of our Bristol office team, I was mostly based on client site in Barnwood, Gloucester, working on a nuclear generation site portfolio.

I’m currently working as part of the Faithful+Gould project controls team, on a proposed new nuclear power generation station in North Wales. I’m based at the client’s head office in Gloucester, where we’re supporting them with the safety case plan.

I’ve brought many transferable skills from my product design degree. My creative side really enjoys seeing something take shape, progressing from early beginnings, through design and on to production or construction. I’ve forged my career in the construction industry because I like the common goal ethos and the collaborative working.

I’ve forged my career in the construction industry because I like the common goal ethos and the collaborative working...

The planner role is one element of the project controls discipline. Project controls is made up of several professions: planning engineers, cost engineers, estimators, risk engineers and commercial personnel. We’re all working together to create the best outcomes for the project, and we’re largely concerned with planning, predicting and controlling the project’s time, resources and costs.

I began my accreditation journey in 2013 with QCF Level 3, part of the ACostE tiered approach. When I joined Faithful+Gould, I was delighted to be encouraged to progress on to the Level 5 Diploma in Planning Practice. The 21 units required at Level 5 have to be completed within two years, but I managed to finish in just one year. We submit one unit at a time, but it mounts up to a lot of written work – I wrote 70,000 words in total.

Some modules were more challenging than others. We had to relate them to our experience in the workplace, and this wasn’t always straightforward. When I was new to working in client offices, for example, there were some areas where I had yet to gain experience, and this meant a lot of fact-finding and networking to get the necessary information. Some of my colleagues were studying Level 3 or Level 5 Project Controls, and our pathways had some modules in common, which was helpful as we could share ideas. My line manager was also very helpful.

When I joined Faithful+Gould, I was delighted to be encouraged to progress on to the Level 5 Diploma in Planning Practice...

In addition to the structured training received, I have also attended seminars arranged within Faithful+Gould and at external trade events. The annual Project Controls Expo is a good example of this, as it highlights the value of the service to the wider construction industry.

I plan to continue on the ACostE route, where the next step is to become an Incorporated Engineer, then a Certified Professional. Chartered Professional is currently being developed by the ACostE and I hope to attain that level too in the future. Meanwhile, I hope to get as much practical experience as possible. As well as the nuclear sector at Faithful+Gould, I’ve worked on a large defence contract where I mentored members of our client’s planning team – something I really enjoyed.

I would like to remain on the new nuclear power generation station project until completion of the safety case project, but after that I’m open to exploring other sectors – with so many opportunities coming up in major infrastructure projects, for example, this is a great time to be part of project controls. And with the launch of the ACostE’s updated accreditation structure, it’s also good to see project controls now receiving the formal recognition it deserves.