HKA YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: ALICE DICKINSON

Meet Alice Dickinson, Managing Consultant

We’ve all heard about the common stereotypes of those working with the engineering, legal and construction professions. But we know stereotypes don’t accurately reflect reality, do they? Meet Alice Dickinson, HKA’s highly creative and passionate Delay Analyst.

Tell us about your background Alice.
After starting three university degrees in Architecture, Mathematics and Fine Art, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do so deferred university and worked at Knowles (now HKA) in London. I started out in administration and then accounts, but what really changed things for me was when I was asked to cover for someone on leave over the Christmas break. I undertook legal research and analysis, which I really enjoyed, so at the age of 21 Knowles offered to take me on as a Consultant and sponsor my Law degree which I studied part-time in the evenings.

What inspires you in your job?
Working on an interesting problem or analysis and unpicking something complex gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I love discovering that one thing that completely changes everything, and it’s fun deciphering what the program is telling me and having the perseverance to work it out.

When did you work on something to make it better, faster, less expensive?
Coming in as an independent Expert and highlighting to a lawyer something they may not be aware of by looking at the facts of a project from a different perspective. We were able to save the client money by steering the analysis in the direction that was more reasonable for the purposes of our analysis. At HKA, we don’t assume anything unless we believe it is true, as it would put the rest of our analysis under investigation.

“Working with Wendy MacLaughlin (Head of Expert Services) is great – she does what’s best for the client which you don’t always get at other companies.”

Typical Day of a Delay Analyst.
I work a lot independently and with people from HKA all over the world, such as London and Dubai, as Wendy promotes global collaboration. This way, we get different minds working on the research and analysis that goes into our reports. I also really enjoy having my colleague in Sydney, Paul Steen, sitting next to me so we can talk things through face-to-face and bounce ideas off each other.

What motivates you?
I need a light at the end of the tunnel as I work a lot better with deadlines in front of me. Pressure motivates me and I can’t switch off until I have worked out the solution to a problem.

If you started your career again from scratch, what would you change?
As I started this career without seeking it out and jumped on opportunities as they were given to me, if I started again I would probably be more actively ambitious from the start. I would have explored different avenues and the experience of working with various different Experts sooner. Within the next 10 years, I also want to go back to studying a Fine Art or Architectural degree, as I still have an equal passion for creativity that cannot be fully satisfied as a hobby.

Do you have any advice for people getting into Delay Analysis?
You’ll need to develop skills to work with all sorts of personalities by actively seeking out great mentors. Experts vary in how they approach an issue so it’s great to absorb all of this when you are new to a role. Work with different experts, branch out and explore.

“As an independent Expert, you have to look at everything without bias and have a wide perspective of the facts, not just rely on those given to you.”

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