"Being a woman in this business has, at times, been a challenge but it's changing which is good to see."

Kim Reid MRICS

How Kim's love of construction led to project-managing the refurbishment of a leading 5* luxury hotel in London.

A willingness to evolve with the industry and a keen commitment to CPD training has taken Kim Reid MRICS across three continents to date. She shares her views on how the changes in the hotel sector are informing construction and describes her 12-year journey from a cadetship in New Zealand to Associate Partner at John Rowan and Partners in London.

I was exposed to the construction industry from a very young age and I loved it. My stepfather ran a road construction business in New Zealand and I used to tag along in the school holidays. I was quite happy to get stuck into the manual labour next to the guys and drive rollers on the road.

Since then, I’ve always been fascinated by construction – not just the aesthetics of a building, but the materials and the people too. The construction industry involves a really diverse range of fascinating and remarkable people and I love working with them.

Being a woman in this business can be a challenge at times, despite how much value we bring to the industry. I’ve had to develop a certain resilience, but it’s changing which is good to see.

Evolving industry

Since I moved to London six years ago, I’m onsite as often as possible. My most recent project was Brown’s Hotel, which took me onsite five days a week, working alongside the client and the constructor. Being a Kiwi, it’s in my nature to muck in and help get things done.

“The hotel and leisure industry is very exciting because it’s constantly evolving and everyone takes real pride in their product.”

Our company has worked with Brown’s Hotel for several years now and this latest project was huge: four different phases at once, with bold, brilliant designs, a high-spec finish and a client who pays great attention to detail. It was particularly challenging because it was a ‘live’ hotel where five-star standards had to be maintained. Brown’s is just one of those unique, exceptional places.

In fact, the hotel and leisure industry as a whole is very exciting because it’s constantly evolving and everyone takes real pride in their product. It feels fantastic to build a space for guests that is both technologically progressive but also deeply relaxing.

These days, hotel guests want to stay somewhere unique, sustainable and community-focused. The life cycle of hotels is getting shorter too: that means cost-effective solutions and regular refurbs to keep the brand fresh. There’s more emphasis on in-room technology now – pre-ordering food, smart rooms, better Building Management Systems to aid energy efficiency – which helps to drive up hotels’ profit.

Surveying around the globe

It’s interesting to compare working in different parts of the world. In New Zealand, there’s a real emphasis on sustainable architecture and construction. I worked with Wellington-based McKee Fehl and Hawkins Construction as a contractor’s QS and my first big project was the Midcity Redevelopment: a 5-star Green Star sustainable work environment.

Japan – where I worked for six months – was just incredible. The hotel architecture is outstanding and there’s an amazing balance between modern and traditional design combined with beautiful materials, symbolism and amazing attention to detail. The Japanese aim for perfection and their work ethic is awesome.

Working in the UK has been different again. In London, I’m usually intimately involved in a project, from inception to completion, so I experience the whole project spectrum. I much prefer having this close interface with the client and the design team.

Staying ahead

Two years after moving to London I decided it was time to pursue chartered status. It was a personal benchmark I could measure myself against and it’s also important to clients that John Rowan and Partners and I are seen to maintain RICS’ professional and ethical standards.

I decided to do the Quantity Surveying: Foundation Programme while I was doing the APC so that I could fully understand the differences between QS principles in New Zealand and the UK – especially contracts. I chose flexible distance learning options because you get the support of an online tutor and an excellent class ‘chat’ forum and I knew I could trust the RICS course materials.

CPD training is very important to me because I have to stay on top of evolving technology and changing legislation. I don’t juggle it with my job – it’s something I see as an intrinsic part of my role. So far, I’ve booked a number of different RICS courses against my CPD log including Construction Project Management: Variations Management which help me gain a further understanding of the mechanics behind project change, how it can impact a project, the associated risk and managing those changes.

Achieving chartered status has been a huge personal achievement and has added value to what I can offer. It has also enabled me to step across gradually from QS to PMQS to a full PM role. Now, I hope to stay in the hospitality industry and work on even more complex and sustainable hotel projects.

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