School of Property, Construction & Project Management

Women Building Futures 2017: Alumni Profile: Jemima Scally


An interview with Jemima Scally – Alumni of the Construction Management Undergraduate Degree

Where are you working now?

“Gardiner and Theobald LLP – London, UK Construction and Property Consultants”

What is your role and what activities does your role entail on a daily basis?

“Project Surveyor

  • Engaging with Clients and Design Teams at early project stages to test project feasibility and set budgets.
  • Measuring and pricing residential, commercial, office and education projects at all stages of construction, including design and cost input.
  • Undertaking high-level tender analysis, tender negotiation with Contractors and providing project cost recommendations to Clients and Design Teams.
  • Value Engineer Design and Construct projects to ensure projects fall within budget.
  • Cost Managing projects during construction including assessing progress claims and negotiating variations, preparing financial reports, and visiting sites regularly.”

What was your favourite part of your degree?

“One of my favorite parts of the RMIT Construction Management degree was visiting site. The first construction site I visited as a student was a 48 level residential tower in Melbourne’s CBD. I loved applying the knowledge I had gained though lectures to the real world of a live construction site. There is only so much you can learn from paper, sometimes you just need to see the way things operate in the industry to fully understand.”

What do you like best about your role?

“I love the project diversity that comes with my role. As I Project Surveyor, I am constantly working on multiple projects, whether it’s cost estimating a high-end residential development or cost managing a new educational fit-out for one of the world’s top universities. Similarly, every project has a different client, design team and contractor. I enjoy engaging with different stakeholders on a daily basis.”

What attracted you to your role?

“I was attracted to high profile and varying projects, communicating with multiple stakeholders and working on different phases of a project. I thrive on the ability to negotiate, and the methodology and logic required to be a successful QS.”

What is most important to you when looking for a job?

“There are three main areas I focus on when applying for a job; what type of construction projects are the company involved in, what type of environment would I be working in and what is the company culture. There are others areas that are important too, including workplace equality, company history, an experienced team and the opportunities to develop and grow your career. However, at the end of the day the most important thing when looking for a job is finding the right fit. As an individual you need to be satisfied that the company is right for you, and you are right for them.”

Tell us about your career journey so far.

“In my second year as a university student, I was employed as a Cadet Quantity Surveyor at PlanCost Australia. During my studies I worked part-time, learning the skills required to measure and price a construction project and to cost manage a project once construction commenced. My experience was heavily focused on Department of Health projects and high-end architecturally designed residential projects.

Once I graduated from RMIT, I began work as an Estimator for L.U. Simon Builders. Predominately involved in large-scale residential developments, I measured, priced, value engineered and tendered construction projects. I worked collaboratively with the construction team to win tender bids and establish cost control for successful tenders. As an Estimator, I was at the forefront of the business; it was high pressure but extremely rewarding.

Two years after graduating, I made the decision to move abroad. As a passionate traveller, my objective was to build a successful career in the international construction industry, with the ability to further develop my experience gained in Australia. I currently work as a Project Surveyor for Gardiner and Theobald, one of the top Construction and Property Consultant firms in London.”

Tell us about the challenges and triumphs you have faced as a female in a male-dominated industry

“I have worked in the construction industry for the last 6 years. During this period, there have been many instances where it has been a struggle as a female in a male-dominated industry. There have also been many times where it has been advantageous.

On a day-to-day basis, I often find I am the only woman sitting around a meeting table discussing a project. It is important to hold your own, be confident that you deserve to be there just as much as the male sitting next to you, act professionally and always with integrity.

On other occasions, I have found being a female in a male-dominated industry gives me a point of difference and I remembered because of it. When you stand out, you will often work harder to succeed.

The challenges I face are made easier by the strength I have gained from my mentor and by surrounding myself with like-minded women who share my passion for the construction industry.”

If you could say one thing to young females looking to enter the industry – what would it be?

“Believe in yourself. There may be times when people question whether you belong. If you believe in yourself and your ability, you will exert confidence and the doubt that others have will disappear.”


Read more about the International Women’s Day event: Women Building Futures: Careers in Property, Construction and Project Management here:

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