Rhiann discusses her background as a Quantity Surveyor and her experiences in Australia, as well as sharing the reasons behind her success and what inspires her today. Rhiann also explains the importance of The Lighthouse Club charity and her involvement in it.
Tell us about your background.
I initially studied Law with French but decided to go travelling and working abroad before I settled down in a career. When I came back, I re-trained as a Quantity Surveyor (QS) and started work at a consultancy which specialised in dispute resolution in order to use both of my qualifications.
What made you make the change from working with contractors to claims?
Technically, I never changed at all. When first I started work, I was subbed out as in-house resource to both contractors and clients, I still had exposure to the claims side of things and could apply my legal knowledge to contracts I worked on.
When I went to Australia, I worked for a multi-disciplinary company and had a lot of varied roles, I worked as PQS on a variety of projects out there, including hospitals, airports and even a ski-jump in a sports complex. I also worked in-house with contractors and subcontractors and developed my expertise in the claims and expert witness side of the business.
What inspires you in your job?
For me, the people I work with are the biggest inspiration. People make projects and ensure the often stressful process of creating them is a pleasure to be a part of. I also love being involved in complex projects that showcase the wonderful engineering and architecture our industry is capable of.
Describe a typical day in your role.
I’m not sure there is a ‘typical’ day, as it depends on what the job is, what deadlines there are and what meetings or calls need to be taken.
At the moment I am working on a number of projects: doing ad-hoc contract and claims management for a contractor on a number of UK projects. I have an Australian adjudication to decide and am also working within an international team to provide a package of documents to a ‘clean expert’ for evidence in an international arbitration.
I usually attend various industry events in the evenings.
An advantage of working on projects with my Australian colleagues is that we can effectively have a continuous work cycle between us, I work through their night and they work through my day. This is especially useful when meeting deadlines!
How does work differ between the UK and Australia?
There are always going to be idiosyncrasies with every country, industry, market, sector and office that need to be adapted to, but in the essentials, work is not too dissimilar wherever you are – you need to work hard and get the job done and one thing is clear the world over. You will never please all of the people for even a fraction of the time in relation to office heating or cooling!
I have been very lucky in my career to work for companies with great cultures and working environments and with such a lot of wonderful people. Great people, whether colleagues or clients, make coming to work enjoyable, as does the challenge of dealing a variety of different problems and idiosyncrasies in whatever environment or country you are in.