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United Kingdom / Assistant project manager

Julia Barr

It’s a diverse team of people with lots of different areas of expertise and we’re really good at bouncing our ideas off each other. In addition, we have a ‘no silly questions’ culture – that is to say, no question is too silly to ask! – which means we work well with each other to get answers quickly.

What attracted you to apply for a role with us?

I had resigned from a role in an entirely different sector and was looking for interesting work! It just so happened that Mott MacDonald had a site office that was very near home and extremely convenient for access to childcare and had a role that fitted my skills and experience! I had a great interview with my line manager and a senior person from that site office and have never looked back.

What are the three things that make you look forward to coming into work each day?

- Interaction with my brilliant and interesting colleagues.
- Knowing that my contributions are valued and making a difference.
- Getting the little things done because they’ll contribute to a bigger picture that I can look back on and think ‘wow, I helped build/do that!’.

What’s your team like?

I work in a team comprising a small number of Mott MacDonald colleagues and some from our partner organisation on the contract I’m working on. It’s a diverse team of people with lots of different areas of expertise and we’re really good at bouncing our ideas off each other. In addition, we have a ‘no silly questions’ culture – that is to say, no question is too silly to ask! – which means we work well with each other to get answers quickly.

What advice would you give others looking to join Mott MacDonald?

I applied with a CV and covering letter. In those, I made sure that I emphasised the skills and experience Mott MacDonald was looking for and aligned myself as closely as possible with the role. Write in a way that your enthusiasm comes across genuinely. Prior to interview, I was given a lot of literature about Mott MacDonald, its sectors and its values, and I made sure to read these really thoroughly. Along the way, I tried to think of questions around these, which showed not only an interest but also that I’d made the effort to read it all. I also re-read the job description, tried to anticipate some of the likely questions and scenarios I would be asked about. This really helped me to calm my nerves and to come across as the ‘real me’ at interview.

What kind of career support have you received since joining?

I have had some really great career support since joining. I wanted to take the Association for Project Management’s Project Management Qualification, so talked this through with my line manager and together we secured permission for me to take this. I was able to book training time off to attend training sessions and also for the exam. I found this really helpful and did really well in the exam. Most recently, I have been paired with a mentor who is a senior manager in the business and he has been excellent in giving me career support, helping to find roles that will give me the experience to make my goals a reality – and checking in to make sure I’ve done my bit, too! I also presented to our unit’s head of learning and development about why I should receive funding for a leadership and management diploma and I am grateful that I was given substantial support by the company to enrol on this. I only started this a couple of months ago and already it is equipping me with really useful skills to make me a better manager and leader. If you have ambitions, tell someone, and if the right person finds out they will pull out all the stops to make it a reality!

Are you involved with any charities or do any voluntary work?

Yes, I am a trustee of my local branch of Riding for the Disabled. I have pulled some of my colleagues in to help out with mucking out and deep-cleaning the stables, for which Mott MacDonald kindly gave a charitable donation!

Where is your favourite place in the world?

Manhattan, NYC! I’m obsessed with the architecture, the infrastructure and the scale of it all. There is so much to do and see, whether you’re a solo traveller or visiting with small people. It’s a cultural melting pot with a fascinating history and I love that you can walk from one street to another and feel like you’ve walked into a different country. I love my food and will try anything once – NYC is great for different, unusual foods, and you can have an amazing meal whether you’re on a super-tight budget or money is no object. The people are super-friendly, too, and always up for sharing their stories.

Who is your inspiration?

Iris Apfel. I’d like to be as fabulous and stylish, and hope I’ll still be enjoying a good party at her age, too!

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