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Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology


Grace Newey is a digital transformation specialist at AtkinsRéalis and part of Cohort 11 of the Construction Engineering Masters (CEM). Throughout her tenure, she has actively promoted innovation and positive change, with a focus on digital transformation.

Grace recently completed her CEM dissertation viva and hopes to graduate this summer. She describes the experience as a significant source of personal and professional growth and an important step forward in her career. The programme has equipped her with the necessary skills and instilled the confidence to challenge the status quo, envision her impact on the industry, and strategise her path to success.


What do you love the most about working in this industry?

The varied experiences and exciting projects. There are always loads of problems that need innovative solutions, which allows me to blend my soft skills with more technical expertise. Working on projects where you feel like making a difference to society, whether transport, mobility or critical infrastructure, can be really rewarding.


What do you feel is the role of the CEM for the industry, and how can it positively impact the construction industry?

Though many exciting things are happening within our industry, there is also much room for growth and improvement. The CEM provides a unique opportunity to gain insight into the state of the art and what the future might hold while also offering a stark look at our current situation and the lessons we can learn. Most importantly, it shows us students how we can make a positive impact. The blend of technical, operational, and strategic content equips us to take on more responsibility and elicit better outcomes, fostering a sense of empowerment and hope for the future of our industry.


The blend of technical, operational, and strategic content equips us to take on more responsibility and elicit better outcomes, fostering a sense of empowerment and hope for the future of our industry.

Grace Newey

You have juggled work and study for two years. How did you manage it, and why was it worth it?

The key to balancing work and studies is to be honest with yourself and the support network around you. This network should include personal, professional, and academic support. It is important to stick to your plans and, if required, be willing to ask for help, whether it's someone marking up your work or just listening to your plans over a coffee. The worst way to tackle this is to feel like you're drowning alone. Remember, nothing is a lost cause unless you suppress and ignore it. Reflecting on the discipline and dedication you mustered and seeing your contributions as an outcome is incredibly rewarding.


Based on your experience in education, what is unique about the CEM compared to other programmes?

The CEM is set up to give students a well-rounded view of the construction sector. The content is varied with presenters from every corner of academia (including Judge Business School), as well as some of the industry's best current leaders and influencers, sharing their experiences of the industry, how they have contributed to change, and what their legacy will leave for us students to take forward. I haven't encountered another construction-specific course that provides you with all the operational knowledge you would get from an executive business qualification but with an industry-specific lens. I genuinely believe selecting a course like the CEM would be tenfold more valuable than a generic leadership qualification for people within our sector.


How do you feel the CEM degree has impacted your career and how you do your job?

I have two stand-out outcomes from the course when considering my career. The first is the ability to refine my public speaking style. I have always enjoyed presenting, but through the duration of the course, whether that be from individuals who have presented and inspired me, getting involved with debating at the Cambridge Union, or through the presentation coaching we have received directly, I feel confident stepping up in front of a large audience and talking passionately about my work. I also greatly value the networking I have been able to do with the presenters during our coffee breaks, panel discussions and Q&A sessions, and my fellow cohort members. The students in this course have some of the most interesting experiences in our industry, and it has totally opened my eyes to different perspectives. I feel connected to them for life after this experience and hope that this connection will allow us to collaborate and support each other with our missions well into the future!


Do you feel different about the industry after completing the course?

The course has made me reflect on what impact I want to make on the industry and how I can do this. This is what now motivates me to want to obtain a senior role within my organisation so that I can make influential decisions and better shape our industry's future.


Do you think that CEM students' companies benefit from employees going through this programme?

Absolutely! For any company with ambitious people, this course is a great way to inspire and motivate them to want to make their mark and help drive you forward in a competitive landscape. As a construction engineering company, if you aren't sending your best people through this programme, then you're missing out!


The Construction Engineering Masters (CEM) programme focuses on educating and inspiring existing and emerging leaders to help tackle the sector's widely recognised challenges. Applications for September 2024  intake close on May 1st. 

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 





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