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Arcadis Partner Christine Dryden combines surveying and design

Arcadis Partner Christine Dryden combines surveying and design

 February 23, 2022

A people-focused leader who thrives on helping empower her colleagues, Christine Dryden is a Partner at Arcadis

Transformation lead for the company’s Design Practice, Christine is a Chartered Surveyor and shares her career journey with Where Women Work. We hear how Christine provides strong leadership, champions diversity and inclusion, and takes on a mentorship role.


Exciting career change 

Starting life as a surveyor and now an aspiring Engineer, Christine recently underwent a career change to run the Arcadis Design Practice. There aren’t many people who have both Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Institution of Engineering and Technology on their CV, but Christine does! 

Here Christine shines a light on why she switched careers – during a global pandemic no less – the learnings and challenges her role brings, and of course how to attract new talent. 

Building a strong leadership team 

Christine commenced her work with Arcadis in 2018 running Property Midlands, a team of Project Managers and Quantity Surveyors. By late 2020, she took the leadership role for Arcadis UK’s multi-disciplinary design practice, to provide design services to new and existing clients. Leading a team of designers as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor was something entirely new to Christine and she had some catching up to do. So, what did she do? 

“I focused on bringing in a strong leadership team to support me who were experienced in running Design Teams across our key sectors, as well as being technical experts in Architecture, Interior Design, Mechanical, Electrical, and Structural Engineering,” explains Christine.

She also focused on the Client Development and Sales process. “Working with a strong leader well-connected to our Client Account Leads within Arcadis, we’ve been able to showcase our ability and secure some impressive and exciting projects,” reflects Christine.

People-first is a key Arcadis value 

Christine provided strong leadership and a people-first approach to help highlight the company’s projects and to attract and retain the best in Design & Engineering talent.

“I continue to learn about design and was delighted to become a Member of the Institution of Engineering & Technology,” says Christine. ”Recognition for the work of my new and growing team was important and I was delighted that The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded Arcadis Chartered Practice status, recognising our quality, ethics and best practice.”

Automated, inclusive, and sustainable design

When it comes to her industry, Christine says she sees an exponential client need in Industrial Design for Manufacturing, Logistics, Datacentres, Technology and Energy Driven assets. This is driving her business plan in design of Gigafactories, sustainable Datacentres, electric vehicles manufacturing, and Distribution and Fulfilment Centres. “Often, Industrial Design is template-driven design that requires complex thinking,” explains Christine 

To meet the needs of a multi-disciplinary design practice, Christine also needs to fulfil the requirement for creative thinking. “I have also concentrated on identifying projects that #ImproveQualityOfLife for communities - for example, new community-based town centre design, sustainable housing, hospitals, mobility hubs and retail,” lists Christine. “All asset types are underpinned by automated, inclusive, and sustainable design with low carbon footprint and Health and Safety at the core of our approach.”

Key strengths and abilities

In her role, there are a number of key strengths and abilities that Christine must regularly call upon.

She cites people skills as a top requirement. Getting the plan right for her people is key to getting the best out of them, she suggests. Equipping her colleagues with what they need to delight the company’s clients, is also important. “Time spent focusing on supporting your people always pays off,” says Christine.

Commercialism is a further element that Christine focuses on. “As a relatively new team, I strive to find the balance between investing in our growth and development, and delivering a profitable return to Arcadis,” she explains.

Furthermore, focus and discipline are key. “I have developed a clear business plan that focuses on our current skills and our growth plan. Sometimes this means we must decline opportunities that do not fit with our growth ambition,” advises Christine. 

A people-first culture 

Arcadis Christine Drysden

When sharing why she enjoys working for Arcadis, Christine highlights that the company works with amazing clients, and this she says is “unlocking fantastic opportunities for my Design Practice and thereby helping me to attract the best talent in the market.” 

“Our strong client focus is combined with the Arcadis people-first culture, and we spend a great deal of time as leaders challenging ourselves to deliver the best people experience. Our response at the start of COVID was exceptional – within three weeks, 98% of our workforce was fully set up to work remotely,” continues Christine. 

Christine has learnt to build upon the Arcadis culture of flexible working and her team often tells her how highly they value the level of trust that she places in them. “I work hard with my senior team to communicate with our staff, making sure they feel valued and part of the plan, and building development plans and succession plans is keeping my attrition well below average” reflects Christine. 

Championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging (DIEB) are particularly important to Arcadis

As such, Christine strives to create teams that reflect the diversity of the working environments and communities that they serve. This means her team has a better understanding of the outcomes needed, which helps them to provide the best solutions for clients and customers. 

“We also connect our people and clients to our purpose, our vision, and our strategy to drive business impact and improve quality of life,” explains Christine. This has meant creating a business plan that focuses on sustainability, digital transformation, and scale.

 “With a diverse team it is critical that I create a superb employee experience to enable every employee to 'bring their whole selves to work' as this is when they perform at their best. I strive to create an inclusive working environment through inviting diverse mindsets and behaviours, in turn motivating my high-performing team by valuing and leveraging their skills.”

With this strategy, Christine connects her team to the company’s clients to drive business impact by improving quality of life.

Women progressing to senior roles

Christine specifically has a passion to see women progress to senior roles in her industry, “not because they are women, but because they are the best person for the job,” she explains. 

Taking on a mentorship role, Christine mentors several women at Arcadis UK and in the company’s Global Excellence Centre in Manila. 

“I also support our Gender Strand to help unlock the barriers that prevent women from accessing opportunities for development and progression,” she says. 

Useful career advice 

Christine offers sage advice for new starters at Arcadis - “invest in building relationships with your line manager and those above, below and around you.”

“There are amazing opportunities for all types of career paths in Arcadis, and those who take the time to understand how the business works and create strong networks, benefit the most.”

To find out more about the current career opportunities at Arcadis, keep an eye on the careers website

Getting the work / life balance right 

Arcadis Christine Drysden

Christine is a mum and step mum to four teenagers, keeping her busy supporting their sport, careers, and education. 

“My husband and I recently bought a house that needs a lot of work, and it takes up much of our time – and cash! In the time I have left, I love to keep fit – I am a huge fan of my spin bike and do around 50 miles each week. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends to relax over a glass of wine, great food, and good conversation to keep me focused on the important things in life” she explains. 

Christine is also a regular volunteer for the Ahead Partnership delivering social value projects in communities. She particularly enjoys supporting the charity’s female focused development sessions with schools, encouraging girls and young women into careers in professional services. 


Be part of a diverse team at Arcadis

There are many exciting roles available with Arcadis

Check out their career vacancies on offer and consider where you might unleash your potential. 

 

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