Helen Sims

Before you came to Brookes, what did you do and where?

English Literature - University of Hertfordshire.

What made you choose MSc PMBE?

Coming from a non-cognate background and straight into an Assistant Project Manager role at Davis Langdon, an AECOM company, the MSc PMBE course appealed to me as an opportunity to build on my knowledge of project management and also demonstrate to the firm that I was adding benefit by continuing my professional development.

What do you think of the course now you're here?

I am now coming to the end of the final year and whilst there have been some challenges in finding the time to study, the course has definitely been beneficial in building on my technical knowledge of Project Management. The coursework is often diverse and allows the opportunity to engage with other students which is fantastic as we all come from different backgrounds and have a wealth of knowledge to share. The intense study weeks are excellent. They allow for the initial face-to-face interaction which is then built upon when the students return to work in the following weeks because discussions continue - especially when there is a piece of coursework that is group oriented.

Do you also work, as well as study? If so, where? Any interesting projects you are working on/have worked on in the Built Environment Sector?

Yes, I am an Assitant Project Manager, working for Davis Langdon based in their Doha office in Qatar.

Before transferring to Doha, I spent 8 months based on site in Abu Dhabi working for a well-known government authority responsible for conserving and promoting the heritate and culture in the region.

The authority has identified a variety of projects to facilitate the delivery of their vision to make Abu Dhabi the cultural centre of the region and I was involved in working across a portfolio of their project which included exhibitions, visitor centres, training facilities, laboratories, museums, a hotel and restoration projects.

In Doha, my projects have mainly consisted of fitting out high-end offices and on one occasion a Court and Adjudication Room for the government. All projects have had individual requirements such as high security, displays and features, all of which have required specialised design solutions.

The clients have been varied, for example, on some projects there will be one client who is responsible for all approvals, whereas other clients have to consult all departments which can be challenging when working within a tight programme.

In addition to the fit out projects, I am also assisting in design management for the master planning stage of a beach development on the north coast of Qatar.

What difference(s) do think you have made (or making) in your work place as a result of studying MSc PMBE?

As a non-cognate, I would argue that the course has mainly been for my personal development; however as a result of doing the course, the knowledge gained has allowed me to increase my capability in the workplace. Therefore I have very quickly advanced from doing administration work/assisting, to taking a more active role in projects with guidance from senior people around me.

What are your plans now that you have completed your course, for work or further study?

I finished the MSc PMBE at the end of August 2011. When I enrolled on the MSc PMBE, I also enrolled on the RICS Graduate Route One, Project Management route which I will sit in 2012 to obtain RICS accreditation.

What are the best bits of studying at Brookes?

The intense study weeks and the opportunity to engage with the other students.

The site visits and field trips to see different architecture in other countries are also great fun and beneficial, especially for those who are studying full time and may not have had the opportunity to visit construction sites before.

What advice do you have for others?

The course is intense and time consuming - start assignments in good time and allow time to submit a draft to your tutor. This will encourage you to identify areas for improvement for your final submissions.