No two days are the same in project management, says Fiona Campbell of Linesight.
Fiona Campbell began her career as a junior cost manager at Linesight in Dublin, but headed to London during the downturn, where she joined Gardiner & Theobald in a quantity surveyor role. She then began working with iconic department store Harrods in her first project management role, on projects such as its high-profile Shoe Heaven space. Fiona credits this role with being a great place to gain experience in the field: “It was exciting and very interesting. I got to work on a lot of projects from start to finish, as projects in retail tend to be shorter than commercial shell and core projects, and this gave me a really strong start as a project manager”.
Fiona then moved on to work for private property developer Epsilon Real Estate Partners, expanding her experience into residential and commercial projects, before returning to Linesight in Dublin in 2015.
Linesight is a global construction consultancy firm with 17 offices all over the world, including New York, San Francisco, Singapore and Sydney. Fiona became an associate with the firm in 2016, and is part of a growing project management team, working closely with senior management: “Project management is becoming increasingly important for our business and for the industry generally. It’s an expanding team, and we have a growing portfolio of projects and clients”.
There is no such thing as a typical working day for Fiona: “No two days are the same and that’s the aspect of the job that I like. As project manager you start your week and you might think your schedule is set, but then you get one phone call and you’ve got to race down to the site, to a client meeting or to a pitch”. The work is very varied, and client focused: “We have a lot of client interaction on a daily basis where we undertake various tasks such as stakeholder management, strategic reporting and financial reporting. Co-ordination and liaison with incoming tenants and potential purchasers is also becoming more important in the current market”.
She says that the nature of the projects she works on has changed significantly in recent years: “The way that the market is at the moment means that projects are not as simple as they were a few years ago when you were dealing directly with the money – there are a lot of funds now, and developers that work with the funds. There’s a lot of reporting required, tailoring bespoke reports to meet clients’ needs and so forth. For example, in one of the projects that we’re working on at the minute, tenants will be looking at the development before it’s finished, and potentially purchasers too, so there are a lot of liaison and due diligence processes that have to be engaged with and managed, in order to meet the timelines”.
It’s a very people-centric role, and Fiona says Linesight is fortunate to work with a range of top-level clients: “We work with nine of the top 50 on the Fortune 500 list. Some of the clients I’m working with or have worked with in the past include Targeted Investment Opportunities, Kennedy Wilson, Dublin City Council, and a number of leading pharmaceutical companies”. The range of clients means great variety in the types of projects too, which reflects the increasing role of project management in the industry: “The PM team is growing and we have increased our exposure in the industry as a standalone unit, as well as in cost control (Linesight was historically best known as a cost consultancy)”.
While the company offers fantastic opportunities to work abroad, for now, Fiona’s focus is closer to home: “We have an expanding team, and a growing portfolio of projects and clients, so my focus is definitely in the project management field in Ireland for the foreseeable future”.
Spreading the word about surveying
Fiona is passionate about improving the gender balance in the industry and, with encouragement from the management team in Linesight, has visited secondary schools to talk to female students about the range of career opportunities on offer relating to construction: “It’s not all mucky sites and getting your hands dirty. There are a lot of exciting and really nice jobs that people might not be aware of. If they’re that way inclined, they might be very good at it and just mightn’t have thought that it was for them, so I’m happy to give an insight into the different roles available”.
On top of her busy schedule, Fiona is studying for her MBA at the Smurfit Business School in UCD, with a demanding schedule of lectures and reading. She also tries to take some time out for more outdoor pursuits: “I try to keep my horse fit and do a bit of show jumping, although coming into the winter I’m not sure how much I’ll get done”.