Career path: Patricia Moore, Turner & Townsend

Patricia Moore is the managing director of infrastructure for Turner & Townsend in the UK. She gained her first degree as an apprentice.

Patricia Moore, Turner & Townsend

Why did you decide to go into infrastructure?

I wanted to do something that combined technical and practical skills -  and construction seemed like an interesting area to explore.

What did you study? How did that lead to this career?

I did not want to be a full time student so I wrote to over 100 firms in Scotland to take me on as an apprentice.  However, most firms were moving to the graduate entry route and consequently, a few firms I had met advised me to go to university. 

I did secure two job offers, accepted one, and started a six-year degree course part time while working through an apprenticeship on a large marine civils defence project.  

Having completed my BSc in Quantity Surveying in Edinburgh, I then came to London in the mid 90s, to study a Masters in MSc in Construction Law and Arbitration at the renowned Kings College Centre for Construction Law.  

That led me to a crossroads – I couldn’t decide whether to stay in mainstream project delivery or whether to specialise in construction dispute resolution. At the time, the industry was going through the sea change of Latham and I chose to stay in project delivery.

Who was your first employer and why?

Corderoy in Scotland – They offered me the apprenticeship and the opportunity to work on an exciting major project. 

Did you have a career plan? How has reality panned out against that plan?

It may sound a cliché but I didn’t have a career plan except that I wanted to keep on pushing myself and learning and developing.

What is special about Turner & Townsend and why have you stayed?

When I joined Turner and Townsend, having worked for other consultancies, I felt like I was home and would likely never leave. Our culture makes us standout. Everyone helps each other and we put what’s right for the business first and foremost.

There is complete meritocracy – and there are no barriers to progression especially as we expand and grow.

We also have the rare opportunity to work with brilliant people who stimulate your mental development – challenge you beyond your comfort zone and shape the industry.

Describe your job

I run the UK Infrastructure division, overseeing almost 700 people across four geographic regions.  I am responsible for making sure we are meeting the needs of our clients, building the business and winning work, running the financial management of the unit, and most importantly attracting talent and retaining, and developing our people.

Did you feel like you were being a bit of a pioneering woman when you set off on your career?

I never went into to be a pioneer. I knew I was entering a male dominated industry but in many ways that is an advantage, as it is easier to land your point when you are a bit different. 

How have things changed over your career for women in the industry?

I genuinely believe there is less discrimination than there was 30 years ago.  Also there are a lot more women entering the professions now, which is great.  I think there is a growing cultural dynamic that diversity leads to stronger businesses.

How could they be improved?

I think the biggest single issue is retaining young women through the childbearing years.  I was lucky to have been appointed Associate Director before I had my first child so I could invest in first class childcare. 

Turner & Townsend also supported me via a flexible working arrangement in the early years and this was before offering flexible working became a legal requirement.

I want to see more women progress to senior levels, It is increasing steadily especially as every business is taking the issue of business diversity more and more seriously. 

Who has had the most influence over your career and why?

Everybody around me at Turner & Townsend has given me great support, opportunity and a community in which to thrive and progress.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Lose weight while you can, it gets harder when you get older!  

What is the one thing you have done that has been fundamental to your career?

The MSc gave me a lot of confidence in my capability. Confidence underpinned by knowledge is compelling and is what clients crave and need.  There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance; a firm foundation of knowledge is the differentiator.

What is the best thing so far in your career?

Without a doubt when I received news that we had won work on Crossrail and most recently being promoted to MD.

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