Award-winning Bryony Martin is Director of Cost Management & Aviation Market Sector Leader for Buildings & Places for AECOM UK & Ireland


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AECOMs Bryony Martin thrives as Director and Sector Leader

AECOM's Bryony Martin thrives as Director and Sector Leader

AECOM’s Bryony Martin, Director of Cost Management and Aviation Market Sector Leader for Buildings and Places in the UK & Ireland, is an impressive woman having won the Best Woman Quantity Surveyor category at the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards in 2018.

AECOM WICE award

“It was a fantastic achievement and something to celebrate, not only on a personal level, but also in the campaign for diversity. It was so rewarding to think that the esteemed judges saw something in my story which impressed them and which they thought was worthy of recognition,” says Bryony.

The win was a great opportunity for Bryony to raise her own profile within AECOM and the wider construction industry, and to raise awareness of the successes of women working in the industry.

It has also allowed Bryony to share her own experiences and encourage other women to talk about their own journey, and to promote diversity and inclusion in the construction industry.

Taking your seat at the table

AECOM Briony Martin WICE

Bryony presented at the Women in Construction Summit in London. “I was asked to speak on the topic of ‘Taking your seat at the table.’ This well-known expression usually represents a mark of success, both literally, for example, taking a seat at a table in a senior board meeting, and figuratively it has come to be used as a statement of ambition and/or success,” explains Bryony.

Bryony spoke about her career journey so far, what she has done to ‘take her seat’ and the challenges she overcame to get there.

Her presentation focused on:

  • the significance of moving from a technical-based approach to work, to a person-based approach
  • the importance of figuring out your own personal brand and being authentic in everything you do
  • the need to be confident and celebrate yours, and others, successes to inspire confidence

Becoming a Director and Sector Leader at AECOM

Bryony’s first degree was in French and Italian: “At school languages were something I enjoyed, and was good at, so I continued with this at university.” To make the route into quantity surveying, Bryony was sponsored by AECOM to undertake a conversion MSc in Construction Cost Management at Reading University.

“It was a great way to make the transition from study to work and meant I could obtain the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accredited degree which I needed to become a chartered surveyor,” says Bryony.

Bryony originally joined AECOM as a non-cognate graduate quantity surveyor: “I chose this career because I wanted to make a difference to cities and communities and be part of their development."

Bryony explains that she wanted to join a global firm like AECOM so she could travel, have access to industry renowned training, and work on a variety of projects and challenging opportunities: “As soon as I joined AECOM I started working on some interesting projects across all market sectors.”

After successfully completing the MSc, Bryony passed the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) with RICS to become a chartered surveyor in the quickest time possible for a non-cognate surveyor. “Becoming a chartered surveyor was a stepping stone to progress through the AECOM business – working on larger, more complex projects, leading teams, taking on responsibility for internal operations and business development and always pushing myself to try new things and keep an open mind,” explains Bryony.

“I am now lucky enough to have two exciting roles: I lead the cost management offer for AECOM in Birmingham and I am Aviation Market Sector Lead for the Buildings and Places part of the AECOM business for the UK & Ireland region,” says Bryony.

Best career advice: Get a mentor

“The best decision I ever made was to get a mentor and I wish I had started working with a mentor earlier,” says Bryony. Her first mentor was a Director at AECOM, but in a completely different team. “In many ways, having someone to just listen was hugely valuable; I was lucky that my mentor had faced many of the challenges that I was facing, was very successful in her career and was formidable in her approach to work.”

“I had worked hard to become qualified as a chartered surveyor and to understand the technical content of my role; however, my mentor challenged me to think differently about work in a personal and people focussed way and widened this to the context of my life, my passions, values and personal brand,” says Bryony.

Bryony currently has two mentors: one is a senior and successful female leader in AECOM. The other is a partner in a law firm: “I heard him speak at an event about his own progression and success in the legal field and some of the challenges he had faced. I knew instantly that I shared many of the same values, so I approached him about being my mentor.” The fact that he works in a different sector also means that he gives Bryony a completely different perspective, something that she finds very beneficial.

Bryony also has several people in her professional life who are informal mentors: “There is something different that I take from each of the relationships and, while I do not take every piece of advice that they give, I have learnt to accept comments and feedback and take on board those which I think will help me. The most important thing in my view is that I am open to listening to others and constantly thinking about if and how I am having an impact.”

Networking, connecting, building relationships

Networking

Bryony acts as an Assessor and Chairperson for the APC process with Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS): “I now thoroughly enjoy the process, however the first time I assessed I was terrified. It gives me a real energy and I have been able to use my experience to help other new assessors and graduates at AECOM,” explains Bryony.

For the past 5 years Bryony has sat on the judging panel for the RICS awards in the West Midlands region: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to take part in this process and see projects from ‘the other side of the table’ especially their impact on the surrounding community.”

Bryony is now head judge of the panel and she recently gave a speech at the end of the RICS West Midlands awards ceremony for 2019: “This was daunting, but I did it and it has helped to raise my profile even more and gain respect from my fellow judges who I hold in high esteem.”

In 2017, Bryony was one of just 11 women worldwide to be elected as a fellow of RICS: “It was an honour and privilege to achieve that recognition from such an important professional body and when I completed the application I was pleased to be able to write so much about what I had done in my relatively short career so far.”

Network, raise your profile, develop skills

BPS Birmingham Future has also been an important organisation in Bryony’s development journey. BPS Birmingham Future is a professional networking and committee-based organisation for those working in the professional services sector in Birmingham.

Bryony has sat on their development and infrastructure committees, managed a mentoring programme and led on events which focus on property and infrastructure development in Birmingham: “This included our bi-annual development update which takes you through key developments in Birmingham in accordance with the areas of Birmingham City Council’s Big City Plan. It was good fun to work on this and it increased my own knowledge of what is going on in the city.”

“Being on the committees themselves was a great way to network, raise my profile, develop skills but also have an input to how people hear about property and construction in the city,” explains Bryony.

Bryony is now working with BPS Leaders which is the part of the BPS organisation aimed at more senior professionals: “I sit on the committee and we have recently run a focus group to obtain feedback on what people want from this type of group and how we can have influence in the city. This is a good opportunity to meet senior colleagues and peers as well as the influential people working in the private and public sectors in the West Midlands.”

Building bridges with local schools

Bryony is passionate about working with schools and undertakes the role of Enterprise Adviser with the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC): “I have been partnered with a girls school of majority Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students, to work with their leadership team to advise on careers strategy.”

This opportunity has also opened up a whole new network for Bryony as she regularly meets with other Enterprise Advisers: “I have been invited to conferences and off the back of this work I am actively encouraging others at AECOM to give their time to get involved. I have recruited people to attend careers fairs, written a multi-disciplinary work experience programme for students visiting AECOM, taken part in a ‘question time’ type event at a school to give students the opportunity to ask me about my career journey, and I am working to ensure AECOM has a presence in student and teacher events as part of what is called BPS’s Professional Services week.”

Bryony’s objective through this work is to help bridge the gap between schools and employers and she sees her role as being invaluable in raising awareness of career opportunities in the built environment, many of which these school students and their families have never had exposure to.

Helping students get the best start in life

Bryony also had the opportunity to present at a careers fair at Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury. “This is not my partner school, but it is where both my Mum and Dad taught for many years. In my Dad's more than 25 years of teaching at the school, he was heavily involved with careers advice, mentoring programmes and working with the pupils to help them get the best start in life. So it was a real privilege and a special experience for me as I never would have thought, when starting out as a graduate quantity surveyor, that I would be able to support an initiative such as this and promote the construction industry to young people who have not yet started out in their careers, and carry on the work of those who are so close to my heart.”

Success can be enriched by helping others

“If I had to narrow it down to one piece of career advice I have been given I would refer to the statement ‘it’s not just about you anymore’. We spend so long thinking about ourselves and our own progression, which at the outset of our careers is to be expected, but in my view, our success involves and can be enriched through our interaction with colleagues, peers, mentors and the things we learn from them.

Most importantly for me is having the ability to positively impact the development and progression of others: whether that be my wonderful immediate team at AECOM in Birmingham, the graduates I support through the APC process, or the school students and teachers I speak to about the opportunities in careers in construction. I can genuinely say that, while I am still ambitious, and I want to progress as far as I can go, seeing others succeeding in their goals and being able to help and inspire others is the most rewarding and enjoyable part of what I do.”

A great time to join AECOM

Join talented women like Bryony at AECOM and find your next career opportunity.
 

Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.

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