Very exciting news this week, as Emily Churchill joins the Ashfold team. Emily’s an accomplished project manager with an outstanding pedigree. She’s worked for organisations such as Gleeds and Buro Four in the past, as well as high-end interior design and other fascinating projects. We had a quick chat with Emily about her life and career so far:
What’s your background and how did you become a project manager?
I arrived at project management by a slightly unconventional route:
In my twenties, I took the opportunity to travel and work in different places around the world. During this time, I seemed to very often end up coordinating various construction projects. One of my early roles in London was working for a high-end residential interior design firm as a project coordinator. After some time in that role, I wanted to get more involved in the entire building process. The BSc in Project Management for Construction at UCL helped me achieve that, and I started at Buro Four. I’m now looking forward to working with the Ashfold team on some interesting projects.
Are there any particular stand-out projects in your career so far?
The Museum of London is one that folk are always interested in, with their planned move to West Smithfield. I worked on a stage of that during my time at Buro Four.
However, the really fascinating project was the Old Vic new Waterloo station. Refurbishing a grade II* listed building while it’s still in operation presents some fascinating challenges. Much of the work has to be scheduled around ‘dark’ periods when there’s no performance on, or only rehearsals are taking place. From those rehearsal patterns, there are some where you can make noise, and some where you can’t. Ensuring you get the right work planned for the right time is quite a feat! We also had to entirely reset the seating which was done over two weeks on 24hr shifts.
Can you tell us a bit more about your recent work with the Shelter Centre?
This was a particularly interesting period. During lockdown most of my regular work dried up, but I didn’t want to sit around doing nothing. So a friend put me in touch with the NGO based in Geneva. We were, working on emergency shelters – the kind of thing used in war zones and refugee camps. The project looks at how how to set up an emergency response and how to improve the organisation of shelters etc.
The aim was to help re-design the shelters, which are used in emergencies. Looking at design of the tents and how they can be more effective and long-lasting / sustainable. Also we were looking to provide respect and privacy to those who have to use them.
One fascinating example was the poles used to support the tents. These were made of aluminium, which of course has an intrinsic value. So one potential goal is to identify materials for the tents that won’t be so appealing for its scrap value!
So what about your spare time? What do you get up to when you’re not project managing?!
I have a thing for Netball which keeps me fit, and provides a wonderful social network. But one of my most rewarding activities out of work is The Girls Network. The charity focusses on taking girls from deprived areas and pairing them with a mentor in industry. The aim is to help them through further and higher education, to give them the best chance of achieving their full potential. And at the moment I’m also studying an executive MBA at ESCP business school, which includes some fascinating insights into leading businesses across Europe.