Cristina De Freitas is a construction manager apprentice working at Kier. She is currently working on the P2 project at King’s Cross and here, she talks about changing her career from an office manager to a construction apprentice and studying as a mature student.
“I joined Kier in July 2015 after moving to the UK from South Africa. I had a background in administration and so, joined the R7 project as an office manager. In my role as an office manager I took care of the project administration, main duties consisted of the day to day running of the site office, supporting health and safety monitoring and ordering and receipting materials for site.
As part of my development plan, I decided to upskill and actively get more involved in the construction aspects of a project. Kier gave me this opportunity and I have been able to join the Kier Foundation Degree at Sheffield Hallam University.
When the R7 project completed I went to the Abcam project in Cambridge, I facilitated the start-up of the administration for Abcam with the purpose to train someone to replace my role so I could start my construction apprentice journey and studying part time. When Abcam completed I then started at Kings Cross P2.
As a construction apprentice I support the King’s Cross P2 operational team taking care of the logistics of the project and I am also the environmental co-ordinator, this includes overseeing the welfare, distribution and storage of materials, enforce the environmental, health and safety procedures.
As I gain experience in the operational team, I am gaining the technical skills that I need to contribute and add value in a more fulfilling role. Working towards being a construction manager means that I will be able to be part of the initial process of starting a building project, seeing progress and then feeling the reward of the project being completed.
Working and studying at the same time can be challenging. Balancing your time to be able to do both is difficult, but I’m lucky that I work in a team of people that supports me and wants me to do well in my career. They are always on hand if I need any tips that can help towards my learning and I am very grateful for that. Working in the same area that I’m studying in has meant that I can put a lot of my learning into action on the job – which has benefitted me greatly.
I am also self-motivated to do well. The opportunity to continue to learn and grow is something that keeps me going in my career and it motivates me to wake up every day and learn something new. In construction management everyday is different and each day brings new challenges which keeps it very interesting.
I love working at Kier. It has invested in my development and allowed me the opportunity to not only study, but to also gain experience during my studies – this isn’t something every company offers for mature students. I have been fortunate enough to do rotations in different departments, which has given me exposure to different areas, such as quantity surveying, mechanical & electrical and the operations of the site.
Changing my career path later in life has been a bit challenging, but I am so glad I did. Expanding my skillset has been fascinating and I look forward to seeing where the future takes me.”