Project management course has already opened doors

Gabrielle Wheeler from Cardiff is studying BSc (Hons) Project Management (Surveying).

"Before I came to University I worked as a Team Leader for Lloyds Banking Home Insurance. I took an interest in the role of our structural surveyors and used my development time to shadow one of them. I loved the organisation and management skills that the role involved and decided to research the surveying industry further. This is when I came across the various built environment courses offered by USW.

I chose to study Project Management over Quantity Surveying as I felt that my strengths and interests lay more in managing others and projects than the finance side of things.

The course has already opened doors for me. I continue to work at Lloyds, but with my increased knowledge and expertise, I now audit the structural surveyors for Lloyds Home Insurance. I review documents that I would not have understood before (such as scope of works / tenders), and ensure that they have been paid correctly.

As a Construction Project Manager, you’ll be expected to plan, assess risks and mitigate them by managing people and the environment efficiently. As such, this is not a course where the lecturers will spoon-feed you what you need to know. You will learn how to solve problems yourself, and this helps massively in work situations.

I’m enjoying so many elements of the course, from the different topics to site visits and making new friends. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying health and safety, and Project Management Practice and Procedure. In this module we are given a real-life scenario with problems to solve. Your way of thinking is tested to ensure that you’ve taken in to account all possible risks on a construction site, and the actions you’d take to mitigate these. It involves an element of observing but also pro-actively taking action.

My favourite modules

  • Health and Safety - building regulations/CDM and managing risk
  • Procurement - different building processes
  • Contract Management – different types of contracts between clients and contractors and how they work. Legal obligations and agreements are studied
  • Asset Management – managing a building to keep it efficiently and safely running
  • Building Management – a structural survey on an unsafe structure
  • Economics – studies development processes and how the construction industry has an effect on the economy
  • Construction Technology – studies why buildings are built using particular methods and materials

The teaching is great, and the lecturers are so supportive. In the first year, I really struggled with the maths element of a particular module. My lecturer Paul Ryall spent countless hours with me, guiding me through the difficulty I was having. His support was excellent, and thanks to this, I passed the module.

On top of the academic support, the lecturers will look for any opportunities to enhance your profile. I have recently been nominated for the Women in Property Student Awards, which is a massive opportunity for me.

As a female joining a construction degree, I was worried that I wouldn’t fit in. But I’ve met so many friends, male and female. My two best friends are female QS students, so we have a number of shared modules. I’ve made a number of male friends too, which has been great, as some of them are from a trade background such as plumbing or bricklaying and they help me with some of the areas I’m unsure of. We’re a really tight group, and we always have study days in the library to get the assignments completed as a team."