Bid Manager for AECOM Europe, Middle East and Africa, Lauren Woodward has an exciting career that includes travelling to make a positive impact through volunteering


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Lauren Woodward is thriving as a Bid Manager with AECOM

Lauren Woodward is thriving as a Bid Manager with AECOM

Lauren Woodward, Bid Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa, has worked at AECOM for over four years in four different offices around the UK. Lauren admits that at school she knew nothing about civil engineering. After studying for a degree in Interior Architecture, Lauren applied for a CAD Technician role at AECOM, but instead the position of Graduate Work Winning Consultant was created for her.

“Bidding is a strange career path,” says Lauren, “in that I am yet to meet someone who did not accidentally fall into it. Although I am absolutely delighted that I did!”

The role of a Bid Manager

“In a nutshell, my role as a Bid Manager involves devising a programme for a bid period (usually just a few weeks), agreeing deliverables and managing inputs to ensure effective delivery,” explains Lauren.

Her job is to ensure the bid is telling the right story; it’s about figuring out what the client really wants and how AECOM can deliver solutions.

“We drive the full process of bid management, from client analysis and win strategy development through to delivery of successful tenders and interview preparation. I have worked on bids for airports, rail stations, sports stadiums, major urban redevelopments and UK highways, and for some of AECOM’s biggest clients. There is an overwhelming sense of pride when you hit the submit button on something you have poured so much energy into.”

One of the perks of Lauren’s role is getting to travel. She explains: “I recently spent a week in Madrid and will be spending time in Dublin in the coming months. The biggest challenge is the time constraints as tender periods can be as short as a few days. However, the intensity of the role means some bid teams have felt like family, and the constantly increasing contacts list in my phone means there is always someone to call for advice.”

Passionate about volunteering

When Lauren is not busy preparing bids and tenders, she spends her time volunteering in a wide variety of different ways. Lauren has taken on several voluntary roles within AECOM, including Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Representative, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Ambassador and Coordinator for the St. Albans office where she is based. Lauren has also volunteered abroad a number of times on behalf of AECOM, most recently in Ghana and Thailand.

Volunteering in Ghana

A highlight for Lauren was in March 2019, when she joined 14 AECOM employees from offices across the UK to volunteer as part of Sabre Education’s Building Better Schools Programme in Ghana.

Sabre Education is one of AECOM’s corporate charity partners. They work alongside the Ghanaian government to improve kindergarten facilities and the quality of kindergarten teacher training, and encourage children to engage in their schooling to reduce drop-out rates further along in their education. AECOM provided payments to cover part of Lauren’s trip costs, and she committed to raising £1,500 towards Sabre’s work in the months leading up to her departure.

AECOM volunteering Blueprint Travel

Lauren and the other volunteers built outdoor learning areas and playgrounds for two schools. The playgrounds consisted of ten pieces of equipment, including four-seater seesaws, rope bridges and monkey bars.

AECOM bid manager volunteering

“Over the four long days on site, we sawed, planed, sanded, hammered, shovelled, wheelbarrowed, and painted in almost 40° heat,” says Lauren. “We were motivated by the schoolchildren watching us from around the perimeter of the site, their excitement growing as they took in the development. On our final day we opened the site to the children, watching them play on the monkey bars and seesaws for the first time. Alongside a great sense of satisfaction and pride in the work, we also marvelled at the ability of the site team to be able to complete such phenomenal work in the heat using manual techniques.”

AECOM Thailand volunteering

Volunteering in Thailand

This wasn’t the first time that Lauren got involved with a volunteering initiative abroad. In July 2018 Lauren travelled to Thailand with 15 other volunteers from across AECOM USA, UK and Saudi Arabia, where she spent 10 days working on the construction of a bakery for the Felix Family Village orphanage.

AECOM Ghana volunteering
Image courtesy of AECOM

The bakery provided the first big step towards a more sustainable future for the village, enabling them to not only learn new skills but also sell the produce back into the community, thus creating a source of income to support more children.

AECOM woman manager volunteering Thailand

“When work began on site we primed the steel beams which formed the main structure for the bakery and then bricklaying began to get the walls in place. On the final day a roof was added, and whilst the bakery was not complete when we left we were able to see the difference we had made,” explains Lauren.

The translator on site ran an English school in the evenings, and when Lauren and the team were not busy building they would join the class and go through language exercises with the children.

Lauren adds: “I will never forget the last night in the village where we were treated to a party and BBQ, played basketball with the children, and sang and danced the night away.”

Lauren and the team could not have achieved what they did without an AECOM Blueprint Grant of $20,000, which went towards buying the materials needed to build the bakery, plus the oven, mixers, and other equipment needed for baking.

Looking ahead

Lauren now plans to travel to Peru to support an event organised by Building Humanity to help indigenous communities in the Andes. While it is often the case that boys in the rural Andean communities will move to cities to go to school, unfortunately the same opportunity is often not available to girls; currently only four in ten Peruvian girls from rural Andean communities will graduate from secondary school.

Lauren will be working with Building Humanity to help The Sacred Valley Project build dormitories where girls from such communities can live while they study in the nearest towns, up to a 15-hour trek from their homes and families.

Final thoughts from Lauren

Lauren concludes by explaining how rewarding volunteering can be: “The trips are a great opportunity to learn skills and meet other like-minded people in the business. Everyone involved has formed a life-long bond, and we stay in touch via Facebook with many of the people in the communities we have helped, receiving updates as they continue to grow. Each community comments on how we have helped change their world, but they have also changed ours.”

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

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