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AECOM Middle East architect Nikoleta designs, plans & creates

AECOM Middle East architect Nikoleta designs, plans & creates

 December 12, 2019

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Nikoleta Stefanaki works with AECOM in Abu Dhabi as an Architect in the Buildings + Places end market. She is a recent addition to the AECOM team but has already enjoyed many achievements and successes with the company.

She is a very optimistic and ambitious woman who is passionate and hard-working in her career. She is also incredibly easy-going and creative. Nikoleta holds a Bachelors in Architecture RIBA Part I from the University of Plymouth in the UK; and a Masters in Architecture, RIBA Part II from Oxford Brookes University in the UK.

As part of Where Women Work’s ‘AECOM in the Middle East’ interview series, we talk with Nikoleta about her exciting career as an architect.

Tell us about your career journey with AECOM in the Middle East?

I have always had an interest in the arts. My family has a background in the construction industry, so architecture naturally became a passion for me. After I finished my Masters in Architecture in the UK in 2015 I moved to Dubai and began my career in the Middle East.

Nicoleta Stefanaki AECOM architect

AECOM’s great reputation and multidisciplinary working environment as well as the iconic projects, were what attracted me to the company the most. There is no limit to my career progression at AECOM.

What do you do on a daily basis for your job and what skills are required?

Designing, planning and developing are integral tasks in my daily routine, as is communicating with other disciplines in order to meet design standards and clients’ requirements. Apart from the obvious technical design skills, effective communication is the most important skill needed for this job. You also need to be optimistic, creative and passionate about your job.

What do you enjoy most about your role and what do you find most difficult?

Working on such prestigious and fast track projects is always a challenge, but a good one! Negotiating for good design over low cost construction is another challenge that we sometimes face. As architects we must demonstrate powerful ways to prove how great design adds real value to the finished building for clients and our community in general. Problem-solving and collaboration between the various disciplines involved in a project is another challenge. We all share the same vision and mission. Through my role as an architect I can influence the way people live their lives for the better and this is what excites me the most about my job.

Nikoleta AECOM architect Middle East

What changes and opportunities are occurring in your sector?

Every project we embark on at AECOM includes a series of challenges that we have to overcome - from selecting the type of structural system to the best way to manage the budget. Working together as a team, we find a solution to overcome these challenges through a thoughtful and well-planned architectural design. I always see any challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, and to become a better architect who adds value in the world through my design.

How would you describe the work culture at AECOM?

AECOM’s culture is supportive and team members are encouraged to explore and work at the top of their skill-sets in order to grow. AECOM is a collaborative place where employees work well with one another. It is also a very innovative place to work: AECOM is always seeking new ways to stay a step ahead of the industry and is really open to feedback and ideas.

AECOM Middle East women architect career

What’s it like to be a woman working in the Middle East?

I have witnessed a serious improvement in the number of women entering the construction sector across the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). There is no lack of female talent in the Middle East within the construction industry, but there are not enough women in senior positions. Across the industry, the stereotypical idea about the role and image of women is a challenge, and this means that women find they need to further prove their capabilities in comparison to their male counterparts in the workplace. Women need to be confident and find tactful ways to challenge these stereotypical ideas. At AECOM there is a friendly and supportive environment where gender equality is a primary goal.

What advice would you give to people looking to work with AECOM in the Middle East?

AECOM in the Middle East provides you with the opportunity to work in a multicultural environment, and helps you develop inestimable professional and personal skills. Construction is a very exciting industry where you learn something new every day. Trust your capabilities and be confident. Stand out and show your value. AECOM is a place where these values matter and you will be given opportunities to help you grow and succeed.

AECOM woman inclusion diversity

Are you involved with inclusion and diversity initiatives in the region?

I have been involved in presentations and debates about inclusion and diversity in the construction industry. The focus of one such presentation was on women in architecture and the construction industry. I also try to mentor and support other women and encourage them to step up and show their capabilities. We need to work together to remove the social and psychological barriers that women may face within the industry.

What are your interests and hobbies outside work?

Photography is a hobby that interests me the most - drone photography especially. Travelling is another passion.

What’s your top tip for launching a career in architecture?

Diversity in the workplace can drive innovation and financial performance. Stay out of your comfort zone and be confident. Show your capabilities and make sure you gain the proper experience and opportunities. The definition of success is up for grabs.

Join AECOM in the Middle East

Search and apply for AECOM’s open job roles and join talented women like Nikoleta excelling through their work. AECOM offers a wealth of international career opportunities and is actively recruiting for a wide range of jobs in the Middle East currently.


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