Colleague Interview

HKA young professionals: Lorna Buckland

Meet Lorna Buckland, Project Consultant

Getting to know the people you work with and being adaptable to how they work is imperative to motivating your team and meeting deadlines. Meet Consultant Lorna Buckland, HKA’s project chameleon who believes it’s the comradery amongst her team that drives her to succeed.

Tell us about your background Lorna.

I’d call myself a generic student as I studied International Business at university and didn’t really know what I wanted to do. During an industrial placement year, I realised I had a skill for and enjoyed organising things. Subsequently, I worked at Network Rail in the UK under their Graduate Scheme. I also studied a Masters in Program and Project Management. Five years later, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but first I took nine months off and travelled to New Zealand and South East Asia.

What inspires you in your job?

It’s about the people, feeling part of a family and working together to deliver somethings that’s tangible and real.

“Project management in construction is like extreme Lego.”

When did you work on something to make it bigger, faster, less expensive?

Back in UK, I was a risk professional and entirely dependent on gathering information from other people. Trying to get everyone together for a risk workshop rarely worked. So, first, I had to work out what was the purpose of something, find alternative ways of working and look outside the box.

Typical Day of a Project Manager?

At present, I’m working on the Sydney Metro project, where no day looks the same. Tasks vary and range from writing a management process; progress reporting; site visits; due diligence and verification against contract requirements. Maintaining a good relationship between HKA and Sydney Metro ensures sustained project results.

What motivates you?

What drives me is a healthy work-life balance. I’m not a workhorse and like to switch off at home. I lean on my work relationships as some days nothing might be clicking, but it’s the comradery that keeps me going. Mindfulness is also very good practice – be conscious of your emotions and reflect on the positive.

If you started your career again from scratch what would you change?

I’d tell myself to lighten up – do your best and that’s fine. I was very rigid and too strict; thinking the outcome of my degree was going to define me. I now know that the healthiest type of ambition is the product of passion. Sometimes you perform better when you relax a bit and don’t put pressure on yourself. I’m also really interested in Psychology, so probably I would have continued that as well.

“Don’t chase promotions, chase experience”

Do you have any advice for people getting into Project Management?

My greatest advice is don’t chase promotions, chase experience. A Graduate Scheme is great way of getting into the industry. A lot companies will put you into rotation so it will give you exposure to different disciplines. Don’t become specialised too soon – you can stay general or specialise if there’s something you really enjoy. Never advise anyone to stereotype to a role – you don’t need to be certain way to get somewhere. As it’s a people business managing projects, the key is to be yourself.

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