Joanne Starr - Design Manager

What does your role involve?

Design Management can be summed up as a project risk-reduction role deployed throughout the project lifecycle. Design Managers at Careys manage permanent works design and need to be capable of robustly interrogating our consultants and designing subcontractors’ design to ensure it is compliant with the brief, statutory legislation and good practice guidance, and that it can be constructed safely within the programme allowance in a manner that offers best value, applies innovation and is sustainable. Careys’ Design Management team work hard to build positive, constructive relationships. In my experience, strong, cohesive alliances are key to the success of any project.

What your Favourite project that you’ve worked on at Careys?

Can I have two? I have recently really enjoyed working with a very talented and positive team on AELTC Wimbledon Centre Court project, a relatively small project for me, but challenging nonetheless due to a compact programme with a hard-stop date of the Championships looming. Fantastic team cohesion with a drive to deliver a quality product, coupled with a great client relationship.

Fast becoming a favourite because of its challenges is the Shepperton South Studio Expansion project for Pinewood Studios. I enjoy fast-paced projects with complex design coordination requirements, again, a great team working hard to programme and deliver Careys’ enabling works around a fluid main works programme with access challenges. There’s a theme here isn’t there? Its all about the people, and the Carey people I’ve worked with to date have formed strong, passionate teams with a will to deliver.

What would be your dream project to work on?

I think about this often, so this one is easy to answer. I have a passion for working on renewable energy power generation projects, this has been the dominant sector that I have worked in for several years until I joined Careys, my bucket-list project would be a hydro-electric power generation scheme. There are emerging technological trends aimed at increasing hydropower’s flexibility, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

These advances include measures to mitigate against climate change, harnessing real world data to control turbines, and energy storage. The ocean is a vast, renewable and awesome power, I believe we will make better use of it in the future and would very much enjoy being a part of that.

I would need to use my Design Management skill set to bring together people and ideas from multiple agencies and stakeholders across a broad spectrum of engineering disciplines from seismic engineers to process systems engineers, bringing together the most innovative engineering minds to help to solve a problem that the world really needs a solution to right now.

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in engineering?

Look close to home for mentors and inspiring women. They are designing, managing, constructing the industries’ projects here and now, no need to look back in history and reflect.

There are a wealth of exceptional women in engineering and construction that I have become aware of throughout the latter years of my career by attending events targeting women in construction. Put yourself out there, push the limits of your comfort zone, attend the events and join a network designed to connect emerging and established women in the industry.

The diversity of speakers will help guide you to your niche in construction, there are many more roles for women than those often in the public eye such as architects and developers. The industry has come a long way in embracing women in construction roles since I started my career 30 years ago, but there is still a long way to go to encourage enough women to take up careers in construction to plug the emerging industrywide skills gap.

Be part of an exciting solution. Construction is fun and rewarding and a great place for women of to build a future. Find a mentor with passion who you admire and question, question, question!

Are there any women in construction you admire?

I admire my female peers and colleagues at Careys, I have met some exceptional women in my short time here, but to choose one from recent history, although perhaps typical, I’d say Dame Zaha Hadid an extremely accomplished Iraqi-born, British architect known for her radical deconstructivist designs. She has created some of the most iconic spaces and structural forms standing in the world’s built environment today.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Definitely in a more strategic role, in relation to both projects and Design Management as a discipline. Selecting best value opportunities and defining the front-end of projects is where I feel my skill set is best-placed to make the biggest contribution to profitability through risk management and the implementation of robust project controls. I hope to have more time to pass on my accumulated knowledge and experience to women just embarking on their career, the good bits and the not so good, to pay forward knowledge and wisdom that many respected colleagues past and present have taken the time to share with me to help me grow, and, to still thoroughly enjoy what I do then, as much as I do now.