Women in Construction: Working and Studying in Abu Dhabi

Jimei Tang
I majored in quantity surveying in the Shandong University of Architecture and Engineering in China. After graduation I joined the China State Construction Engineering Corporation in Beijing and they sent me to work on their project in Abu Dhabi, UAE, as a trainee quantity surveyor in 2009.

When the project was completed after four years, I decided not to return to China, but to continue my career development in the UAE. I have enrolled on the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) which is vital for my professional development – and important to my employer. Faithful+Gould is the first company in the Middle East to be regulated by RICS.

Faithful+Gould is the first company in the Middle East to be regulated by RICS.

My APC pathway is quantity surveying and construction, graduate route one. I have good support from my line manager who advises me on what I need to develop. I’m not only enrolled on the APC but also studying for a globally accredited MSc in quantity surveying at Heriot Watt University, Dubai campus. The MSc involves at least two years part-time study to cover the required eight modules and dissertation. It's a great course, covering the latest industry knowledge and technology. For instance, my current course 'Construction Practice and Information Technology' is focused on BIM and has been supported by in-house BIM training from Faithful+Gould.

...Faithful+Gould encourages my MSc studies and offers flexible working hours.

It's hard work to make the three-hour journey from Abu Dhabi to the university in Dubai twice a week but I’m lucky that Faithful+Gould encourages my MSc studies and offers flexible working hours. It’s a busy but fulfilling life here in Abu Dhabi. I’m very engaged in my academic work as I see it as a real opportunity for personal career development.  After work, I take about half an hour to complete my work diary online on the RICS APC website, summarising the day's learning. Then I might spend up to two hours on further study on weekdays, and often most of the weekend too. But it's not all work. I also enjoy exercising, I’m involved in church activities and I volunteer with Chinese labourers’ activities in Abu Dhabi.

The construction industry still has a traditional gender split; however, I am one of seven women in our team.

I enjoy being part of the Faithful+Gould Abu Dhabi team of 31. The construction industry still has a traditional gender split; however, I am one of seven women in our team. It is challenging working on site for everyone as the conditions are hard as it is extremely hot, noisy and dusty in the summer. I have the advantage of the site experience I gained in my previous role working for a main contractor, which has given me confidence and a full understanding of the job sequence. In my experience it is essential to utilise co-ordination and multi-tasking skills to help create a more comfortable working environment for the whole team.

At the moment I am engaged on a lot of pre-contract work and I’ve been involved in the tendering of many projects. One of the most amazing projects is an iconic multi-billion Dirham museum on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. Faithful+Gould is appointed on the bill of quantities, measurement and cost plan. The building has unique features, outstanding architectural design and we’re using BIM. I've also worked on tenders for hotels, infrastructure (with our parent company Atkins), shopping malls, bus stations, residential accommodation and even zoos.

 

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