A job of Titanic proportions

I’ve always been intrigued with the built environment and how this influences human behaviour. It’s something which fascinates me. A visit to London in my early teens ignited a passion to be involved in creating interesting spaces people interact with. I developed my technical competencies by completing ONC and HNC Building Studies courses on a part-time basis whilst developing my design knowledge working within architectural, building and consultancy practices in Mid-Ulster as an architectural technician. This was a great introduction to the construction industry, in terms of both practical and academic experience, and all during the transitional change from rotary pens to CAD (yes, my age is now showing!).

I furthered my academic credentials through Ulster University’s Construction, Engineering & Management degree course, again through part-time studies, before joining Titanic Quarter Limited as a Project Manager. Given the scale of activity already delivered within Titanic Quarter, one of Europe’s largest waterfront regeneration projects, it’s sometimes easy for me to forget that the area was no more than an expansive brown eld site when I was appointed in 2007.

Titanic Quarter’s ambition to reshape and re-invigorate this part of Belfast is something which continually enthuses, inspires and motivates me. Titanic Quarter’s completed projects have transformed Belfast’s skyline whilst adding to the economic vibrancy and overall vitality of the city. It is a bespoke, flexible space and lively, inspiring waterfront location rooted in Belfast’s unique maritime heritage. This modern environment showcases the best of 21st Century design.

The Gateway Offices, located at the entrance to Titanic Quarter, are a template for our Grade A Office developments. Planning permission has now been secured for almost 1millionsqft of Grade A Office accommodation. Our next commercial office project, Olympic House, with an investment of £28.5m, will offer 148,000sqft of quality Grade A office accommodation and up to 2,100 jobs.

Our landmark residential development, the ARC, is now home to over 1,000 people and is one of Belfast’s most sought-after locations. While Titanic Quarter, along with key partners, has pioneered the Northern Ireland filming industry that pumps an estimated £148million back into the local economy. Even when the final series of HBO’s Game of Thrones is completed, we will continue to make our mark on the film world.

The nature of Titanic Quarter and my role means that, as a team, we need to constantly adapt and innovate to take advantage of market opportunities that align with our masterplan of enhancing Belfast’s economic, social and cultural offering.

One key strategic aspect to success is project execution planning and collaboration with consulting partners together with early contractor involvement to de-risk delivery stage. Communicating our aims, objectives and brief at the inception stage is a fundamental principle that underpins the business. This is crucial to our success whilst limiting the extent of scope creep with our potential tenants, occupants and key stakeholders.

Our delivery strategies have been successful with landmark projects in the past and, as we take on new projects, they will again be vital. Looking ahead I have goals which I am con dent will help me progress on both a personal and career level. Enrolling within an Executive MBA has been on my radar for some time, but with a family of four children, finding time is difficult. My grandfather’s advice – “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” – has been ringing in my ears so I think now is the time.



A week’s work experience with Gilbert-Ash convinced me to study Construction Engineering and Management at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

In 2010, I secured a placement as a Site Engineer with Farrans Construction based at the Bangor Aurora Aquatics Centre.This proved to be an invaluable experience which I found fascinating as a young student engineer. I graduated in June 2012 with First Class Honours and returned to Farrans to continue the Bangor project.

Due to the downturn, I travelled to Perth, Western Australia, acquiring employment on a $2billionAUD healthcare project, Fiona Stanley Hospital. In my role as Project Coordinator I gained crucial skills; faced with the challenge of decommissioning departments, subsequent phasing of works and the transfer of health services. I returned home in November 2015 and secured employment with Farrans Construction, this time as an Assistant Project Manager on a £25million PCSA for the London Borough of Camden.

Since my return I have been given the opportunity to diversify my skill set further. I worked as a Site Engineer on the Altnagelvin North Wing re-development, where I organised a CIOB Novus site visit in February 2018. I have recently acquired the role of Design Manager on Parliament Hill School, London and the South Lake Leisure Centre, Craigavon; conjointly valued at £65million. I have hopes of progressing into Project and Contracts Management in the future.

With Farrans’ commitment to mentoring staff and promoting chartership I obtained my MCIOB in October 2016 and consequently joined the CIOB Novus group in November 2017. I was delighted to be elected as Vice Chair in May. I am passionate about engaging with other young professionals, creating an awareness of the opportunities that a career in construction will entail and influencing the future of the industry. This is a hugely rewarding profession – one in which you can be integral in a project’s evolution and development from ‘cradle to grave’. With the ever-increasing influence of digital technology in the industry, construction can only bene t from the input of a younger generation, and CIOB Novus is dedicated to achieving this.

If you would like to join Novus or co-host an event, contact Ríona at rmagennis@farrans.com

Julie Fitzsimmons, CIOB Member Services and Events Coordinator
T: 01344 630729
M: 07760 164101
E: jfitzsimmons@ciob.org.uk
W: www.ciob.org