29th September 2023

National Inclusion Week with Ciara Shaughnessy

For National Inclusion Week, Ciara Shaughnessy, Graduate Quantity Surveyor, tells the story of how she followed a career into construction and what inclusion means to her.

After university, Ciara took a job on reception at Chapel Wharf, Sir Robert McAlpine’s residential development in Salford, Manchester. Just over a year later, she was back working at the same site, on her way to completing her degree as a Quantity Surveyor.

It was quite a journey. The more Ciara learned about the construction industry, the more interested she became. And so, with her affinity for working with numbers, and after speaking to the Commercial Manager on the site, the profession of Quantity Surveyor appealed.

This was a career route she could not have predicted while at school: “I’d never even heard of surveying. But because on reception I would often help out with reviewing accounts and was really included as part of the site team, I absorbed a lot about what everyone was doing, and realised it was something I could be good at.”

Sir Robert McAlpine offered Ciara the chance to do an accelerated degree in Quantity Surveying while she worked, which meant she completed it in three years, rather than the usual five. She says, “I’d already done a degree, so I didn’t feel I was missing out on the Uni experience and just wanted to get on.”

Ciara gained her chartership shortly after finishing her qualification: another whirlwind year, with work on projects spanning healthcare and education, as well as residential developments. She has been involved with Co-Op Academy Bellevue in Manchester and the Friarage Hospital site, Northallerton as well as Chapel Wharf.

Reflecting on her path into the industry, she values the opportunity to blend work with education, “I was gaining real life knowledge that I could link back to what I was learning, and that really brought it to life for me. I would recommend it to anyone, but would say that the accelerated path is quite intense, and maybe even more so if you have not already attended Uni. I was lucky in that I was used to working on assignments and regular deadlines.”

Now a Graduate Quantity Surveyor, day to day, Ciara’s routine is varied and interesting, working both on site and at home (with Podge her English Bulldog!). She’s currently busy with the procurement stage of a project which means meeting and interviewing sub-contractors, but week to week she can also be found working on monthly valuations or commercial reporting for clients.

For Ciara, inclusion means everyone feeling comfortable to be themselves at work, without being self-conscious – like the support she received when joining the industry and sharing her unfounded worries about lacking a construction background.

With seven affinity networks for everyone, including working families, gender equality, LGBTQ+ colleagues and those with disabilities, I feel like if something in someone’s life means they need support, they will be able to find it at Sir Robert McAlpine. There are also lots of really good resources on our internal internet and in the information that is sent around regularly. Office managers do a good job of making sure the messages make it out onto sites as well.

Ciara Shaughnessy Graduate Quantity Surveyor

If there’s one thing the industry as a whole could do better, she thinks it would be to engage with school and college age learners more, and particularly young women. As Ciara says herself, she did not even know that her current job existed while she was at school, and so participating in job fairs for young people and offering really good, structured work experience – both of which she has been involved with at Sir Robert McAlpine – are something the sector could do more.

As she says, “It’s not enough just to hear about these jobs – young people have to see them.”

News and comment

  1. Ella Mills

    National Inclusion Week with Ella Mills

    26 Sep 2023

    Assistant Planner, Ella Mills never imagined herself pursuing a career in construction. Her journey began with a week of work experience at Sir Robert McAlpine during her GCSEs, an experience that unexpectedly ignited her passion for the industry.

    Read more about National Inclusion Week with Ella Mills
  2. Sassi Stark

    National Inclusion Week with Sassi Stark

    27 Sep 2023

    For National Inclusion Week, Sassi Stark, Digital Construction Manager shares more about her journey through the world of construction. Filled with determination and resilience, she reflects on the evolving landscape of an industry that is actively embracing inclusivity and encouraging fresh perspectives.

    Read more about National Inclusion Week with Sassi Stark
  3. David Twizzel onsite at Riverside, Sunderland

    National Inclusion Week with David Twizell

    28 Sep 2023

    During National Inclusion Week 2023, David Twizell, Works Supervisor, shares his perspective on inclusion in construction and how he has benefitted from our inclusive Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy.

    Read more about National Inclusion Week with David Twizell
Read further news