7 March 2019
A year after commencing her apprenticeship at WYG, Trainee Project Manager Natalie Brown catches up with us about her newfound responsibility in the Leeds office move and the progress she's made in developing her expertise within project management.
Q: What role are you taking in the Leeds office move?
Natalie: My role in the Leeds office move is assistant project manager to Paul Barnfield (Project Manager) and workstream lead for acquiring and coordinating the new depot facility to house our asbestos and IT team, van parking, and various teams’ equipment. This means I report to the project manager, the project board, and the Project Team with developments on the depot and areas of the project I am asked to lead.
Q: What’s the new office like and what benefits will it bring?
Natalie: The aim for the new office was to create an environment with better facilities and spaces that enable us to collaborate within our teams and across practices. In the design, we have allocated a lot of flexible space for collaborative working and varying work settings - these areas use the space more efficiently. The general location of the office is closer to our clients and competitors and I think it will be a more desirable location for talent across all levels, but especially graduates and apprentices.
Q: What have you learned whilst involved in the office move? What has surprised you the most?
Natalie: The most surprising thing by far is just how much more interaction the space and layout encourages. That interaction breaks down a lot of barriers that often exist in office spaces that are segmented across different floors, for instance. Aside from the obvious benefits to mental health, it means all of us will gain a greater awareness of the work being undertaken by our colleagues on various teams, encouraging symmetry and collaboration.
I have been fortunate to interact with the majority of our teams in Leeds for this project and have learnt so much about what others do and how they operate in their day-to-day role. Other areas I’ve learnt about include Procurement, Property negotiations, Microsoft Teams, commercial decision-making, budgeting, and the difference between project managing internal and external teams.
Q: What have you learned about project management in the last year since you started?
Natalie: I’ve passed the first two stages of my Project Managing apprenticeship, the Agile Foundation exam and the APMQ. I’m currently finishing my portfolio of work detailing 15 competencies the APM requires you to pass in your apprenticeship. Examples include governance, stakeholder and communications management, budgeting and cost control, scope management, risk and issue management.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on so far?
Natalie: I’ve been lucky to be involved with really great projects so far and great project managers that have allowed me to be get involved with everything. A highlight was speaking at project expo in Kensington Olympia. It was my first time speaking in public for work and I got some good feedback from another speaker at the conference which further motivated me.
Q: What’s the most attractive thing about project management, and why might other young people want to get involved?
Natalie: As a PM, you have the opportunity to meet a huge variety of people and learn from colleagues and clients with experience in so many fields. Even as an apprentice or graduate in the business, you gain a massive amount of awareness of surrounding industries and practices quite quickly.
Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Natalie: It’s a celebration of all women around the world and our achievements, without regard to division. But it’s especially a good day to reflect on who the great influencers are to me personally, both in and outside the workplace. I’m lucky in my team, projects and at WYG, there are lots of women who I look up to and learn from every day.