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Hear from an AECOM Director in the Middle East, Cathy Christer

Hear from an AECOM Director in the Middle East, Cathy Christer

 December 20, 2019

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Cathy Christer is Director of Mechanical, Electrical, and Public Health (MEP) in the Middle East for AECOM. Based in Abu Dhabi, she has only been with the company for a short time but is already enjoying the range of opportunities and projects on offer.

Cathy is a chartered mechanical building services engineer with over 25 years’ experience in providing MEP consultancy services. She oversees AECOM’s MEP design consultancy services and her team deliver a wide range of exciting projects for clients across the area.

Continuing Where Women Work’s ‘AECOM in the Middle East’ interview series, we talk with Cathy about her interesting career. 

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

I joined AECOM a year ago as an MEP Director in Buildings + Places. I was attracted to the role due to the variety of projects that AECOM delivers and AECOM’s commitment to the Middle East.

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

I look after MEP resources, technical aspects of projects, interface with my Architectural, Structural and Project Management colleagues, and work on the strategy for the team progress and development along with my senior colleagues. Technical skills are needed as well as good communication skills, and an ability to manage a significant amount of pressure in terms of resources, finances and project delivery issues.   

AECOM CathyChrister

What do you find most challenging about your role? 

The most challenging part of the role is meeting the project resourcing and deadline requirements while ensuring that staff wellbeing is maintained. The team is only as good as the people and it is vital that the team feels engaged and involved but also has sufficient time for family, friends and all of the important stuff in life outside of work. 

What challenges and opportunities are occurring in your sector? 

The industry is constantly evolving but the most important change to us is the digital revolution towards designing and working in 3D. This requires constant learning and development and can offer significant benefits in terms of reduced design periods and enhanced quality checking processes.

What is it like for women to work in the Middle East? 

I have had a very positive experience working in the Middle East and consider myself fortunate to have been able to do so. The reality is that construction can be a challenging industry for all involved - men and women. The change during my career is that it is now more common for women to be in senior roles in the region and it is positive to see government and industry emphasis on inclusivity.


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

I would certainly encourage women to start thinking about a career in the Middle East because it is an interesting place to live and work. On a personal level there are many interesting places to see in the UAE and the wider region. On a work level, the projects are generally very fast-paced and engaging.

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

I am the regional representative for AECOM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and it has been great to interface with the other regions in this role. The aims of the committee are to outline areas of focus for diversity and inclusion issues within the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region and share initiatives and information between the different regions.

My role has been initially to gather and assess the employee data within the Middle East to understand the current status and then to liaise with the senior management to agree which areas to focus upon and which initiatives to progress. It is a very interesting area and I am hoping to dedicate more time to this.

How would you describe yourself both professionally and personally?

I believe in fairness, openness and honesty - professionally and personally. I believe it is important to understand each other’s situations, and to think about what it may be like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.

What interests and hobbies might you have outside work? 

I enjoy walking, camping and exploring.

AECOM Cathy Christer

Join AECOM in the Middle East

Search and apply for AECOM’s open job roles and join talented women like Cathy 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.


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