Ninarita Williams

Ninarita Williams | Transport for London

Ninarita Williams

After having graduated with a 1st Class Honours in Politics and International Relations, in 2013 Rita triumphed out of thousands of applicants to attain a place on the TfL Project Management Graduate Scheme.

The scheme enabled Rita to develop her competency through a series of six-month placements in different areas of the business, allowing her to gain experience in all stages of the construction project lifecycle. She excelled in taking on real responsibility from early on in the scheme, and managed a variety of high-profile and politically-sensitive projects. Projects included: Ruislip Depot area refurbishment and Lillie Bridge asset relocation to facilitate the £1bn Earl’s Court Development; commercial retail developments; critical repair of Stamford Brook Bridge to extend the lifespan of  the bridge and track by 20+years; Prudential Ride London; enabling the British leg of the Tour de France; train testing & commissioning facilities; and other award-winning projects to bring better cooling and ventilation to hotspot stations on the Jubilee, Bakerloo and Victoria line. During her time on the graduate scheme she was awarded a prestigious secondment to Hong Kong MTR to engage in “best practice” knowledge exchange concerning  persistent construction issues in rail.

Rita is currently a Project Manager leading multi-million pound construction projects on the £5.4bn Four Lines Modernisation Programme. With a heavy focus on civils, mechanical and electrical works, Rita is project managing the construction of complex signalling equipment buildings in logistically challenged spaces in Hammersmith and Uxbridge. The Four Lines Modernisation programme is set to increase the capacity of the subsurface network by approx 33%, provide faster and more frequent journeys, increase service reliability, as well as improve the customer experience on the network. It is the largest signalling project in the world, bringing much needed improvements to London’s public transport infrastructure.

For her efforts, last year Rita was shortlisted as a finalist for Young Rail Professional of the Year 2018, and recently won a coveted position as a judge for the National Rail Awards 2019. She is an avid mentor and member of the TfL BAME and Women’s Staff Network groups, as well as the TfL & Siemens Girls Careers Network. She coaches and engages other young women into construction and STEM related roles.

Rita recently graduated with a Distinction in MSc Project Management. In an effort to gain more insight into common construction industry issues, she undertook a study that focused on the role of hidden barriers women face in attaining leadership positions in construction. Her work has recently been published.


Francecsa Isherwood

Frankie Isherwood | CBRE

Francecsa Isherwood

I graduated from Oxford Brookes University with a masters in Real Estate in 2015 and went on to join the CBRE graduate scheme where I spent my first year in the Capital Markets team.

I then spent six months in Development Consultancy and six months in Lease Consultancy before sitting my APC.

I returned to the Capital Markets team on gaining RICS status in October 2017 and since then my role has involved providing advice on commercial property acquisitions & sales, development funding transactions and JV structuring mandates. In 2018 I was involved in a number of high-profile transactions including the Bruntwood SciTech Portfolio JV (£360m) and Aviva's funding of Enterprise City in Manchester (£300m) both of which were advised over a period of in excess of 12 months and provided excellent learning experiences.

In addition to my day-to-day role, I have acted as 'Charity Champion' for CBRE Manchester organising and taking part in numerous events including the Three Peaks challenge and the Great North Swim. I have attended careers fairs, acted as a mentor at Manchester Enterprise Academy and provided seminars at University of Manchester to promote the property industry as well as CBRE.


Helen Heward

Helen Heward | Planning House

Helen Heward

After studying Geography at University I quickly realised that it was human activity that interested me most so I embarked on finding a career where I could look to minimise the impact of human activity on the natural environment.

After a lecture someone came to give a presentation about opportunities in town planning and I could see that the profession was exactly what I was looking for so I continued to study for my masters in Town Planning.

After 13 years in Local Authority planning departments in the north-east across planning policy, enforcement and predominantly development management I left in December 2018 to work for a small independent planning consultancy and I absolutely love it! The role allows me to work closely with clients and take a creative approach to maximise development potential whilst working well with Local Authority planners, as I am aware of the systems and constraints which they work within. The job comes with pressures however I enjoy the daily challenges and have thrived in an environment where building relationships with people is genuinely important and valued. I feel incredibly lucky that Planning House have taken a very flexible approach to the working week to allow me to continue with a career I love while being at home with my young family.

Planning House has also provided me with an opportunity to work on another of my passions, which is gender equality within the planning industry. Following my move from Local Authority I was given the time and support to launch a branch of the Women in Planning network for the north east and the interest has been phenomenal which to me clearly demonstrates a need.


Michelle Hicks

Michelle Hicks | Merlin Entertainments

Michelle Hicks

I studied for my MEng in Civil Engineering at the University of Surrey where I was awarded a Surrey/ICE scholarship and sponsored by WSP for the duration of my degree.

During my year in industry I had the opportunity to work on the £1bn redevelopment of London Bridge Station which inspired my dissertation on the assessment of the quadripartite vaults in the undercroft of the station. I graduated in 2014 with the highest results on record and was invited to join the Civil Engineering Industrial Advisory Board at the university. Since graduating I have continued my research into the assessment of historic quadripartite vaults and my work has been published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Structural Engineers' magazine The Structural Engineer.

I joined WSP when I graduated and was awarded the NCE Graduate of the Year and ACE Consultant of the Future awards in 2015. My interest in coordinating all aspects of a project led me into Project Management and in 2016 I followed my passion for the themed entertainment industry and joined Merlin Entertainments as the Project Manager for Chessington World of Adventures Resort. In this role I am responsible for leading the design and construction teams to deliver multi-million pound theme park attractions. The projects I have successfully delivered to date include The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure, Land of the Tiger and Room on the Broom – A Magical Journey.


Candy Hollingum

Candy Hollingum | CBRE

Candy Hollingum

Aged 33, I am currently an Operations Director at CBRE, leading the delivery of workplace services to a key customer across 15 countries in EMEA.

What does this mean? Well to me, personally it means balancing a huge sense of responsibility with an undeniable sense of satisfaction, knowing that the work that our teams deliver means that the 10,000+ people who occupy the buildings we run can focus on their core business and go home safely each day because of the work we do.

I came in to the Workplace/FM sector after graduating from Kings College with a degree in Modern Foreign Languages in 2010.
Graduating just after a recession meant I struggled to find work. Something that had never been the case before. I had been working since I was 15 – when (at already 6 foot tall) I concealed my age to get a job as an English teacher while living in Rio.
So, in August 2010 I accepted a job offer in Access Control working for a large FM company and the rest really is history. I have now been in the sector for 9 years, having spent the first half of my career doing every job going in FM from building security & access control, then front of house, moving through helpdesk, procurement, finance, waste and environmental management &training before I became a Workplace Manager.

It is the variety that hooked me back then and why I still enjoy what I do so much now.

It fascinates me how much work goes on behind the scenes to ensure spaces function seamlessly in the way they’re designed to be. I can never again walk in to any environment – be it an airport, restaurant, shop or even a church without noticing a light out or involuntarily ‘auditing’ their cleaning standards but above all how an environment makes me feel.

Who knew that an industry that I’d never heard about could’ve gotten under my skin like this?

I am now an active advocate of our sector and am passionate about making FM a career of choice. I try to share what I’ve learnt so far by mentoring and sponsoring a number of people in my field, as well as working with internal and external groups to increase diversity and encourage social mobility in our industry. Both areas that I am hugely passionate about.

All this in a sector that nobody has ever heard about, although I’m not quite sure how when it’s worth c.£120billion a year!