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Published in Construction on 08/06/2020

Lunch with Lorraine Brady, BAM Ireland


CNI Editor reports

Lorraine Brady is the Pre-Construction Director with BAM Ireland. Lorraine specialises in all pre-construction activities, which include; bid management, strategy to win, design management, project management and handover to the BAM project delivery teams. She met us virtually for our “Lunch with CNI” interview.

The youngest in a family, which is clearly passionate about everything architectural, the fact that she would go into the construction business may seem pre-ordained, but it was the legal profession that first turned her head.

A Chartered Surveyor with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS) and The Society of Chartered Surveyors (MSCS), Lorraine attended DIT Bolton Street as an undergraduate and holds Honours Diplomas in Project Management, Construction Law and Contract Administration from Trinity College, Dublin

We talked about the important of mentorship, the immense but surmountable challenges that Covid19 presents to the industry, and why a glass of wine at the end of a day exploring ancient Italian ruins is the best way to spend a holiday.

How do you start your day?

I wake each day at 6.30am. Despite all the best mindfulness advice, I do check my emails first to see if there is anything important, I need to respond, to or if there have been any last-minute changes to planned meetings.

I get up and make a coffee, accompanied by a Berocca which is my guilty morning pleasure. I shower and get myself ready for the day before waking my 16-year-old daughter Caoimhe.

With all the usual morning panic of ‘where’s my shoes, coat, folder, lunch money (her not me!)’ we leave the house early and I drop Caoimhe to school before driving to our head office in Kildare or in to Dublin for meetings.

This was of course my morning routine pre-Covid! Now, it is very much the same routine without the dash to school and the long drive to Kill. This is very much a life enhancement.

Are you from a large or small family?

By today’s standards you could call us a large family. I have two sisters and one brother and am the ‘baby’ of the family.

Those that know us are aware that we are a real-life version of the ‘Brady’ bunch. We are a very close family and spend lots of our free time together.

We travel together for weekends away and have had lots of summer holidays throughout Ireland, Croatia and Italy.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I really wanted to be a solicitor or a barrister. I always loved watching crime shows such as Kavanagh QC and Inspector Morse. I guess I really wanted that moment of standing up and shouting “objection!” loudly in court.

I applied for and was accepted for Law in NUI Galway. Sadly, the logistics of studying and living in Galway at that time were not practical for me.

My two older sisters followed paths of study into architecture. My Dad was a teacher of building construction and construction technology and this heavily influenced the career choice of my sisters and I.

Our house was filled with A0 draughting machines, ink pens, construction technology books and drawing tubes. It was very normal to arrive down to breakfast to see my sisters still sat at their drawing boards having not been to bed, drawing through the night to meet a deadline.

This atmosphere of building, drawing and sleepless nights influenced me to follow their career path when I realised my law career was not to be.

Where were you educated?

I attended the Dominican College Eccles Street Dublin for my first year of secondary school. The school moved to Griffith Avenue for the remainder of secondary school. I spent a full year at the Institute of Education Leeson Street for my Leaving Certificate year.

Following my second level studies I went to DIT ‘Bolton St. Those were great days of all-night drawing (I guess we were not too good at planning our work!) followed by creamy pints of Guinness in the Yarn Hall pub after ‘hand up’.

I returned to post graduate study in 2000 and completed a post graduate Diploma in Project Management at Trinity College Dublin followed by Construction Law and Contract Administration the next year (finally some law study).

That year of Construction Law study confirmed I would have loved a legal career!

Have you ever had a mentor?

Yes, there have been a few people who have greatly influenced me along my career path. These have provided support and acted most importantly as a role model. Following years in architectural practice my career took a turn when I joined a large EPCM (Engineering, Procurement and Construction Management) company called IDC Limited.

The move to IDC was a real (and pleasant) culture shock from the world of architectural practice. This US company saw no limitations of age, gender or experience. If you had the ability and ambition you could aspire to any role or position.

Working with and being mentored by some very senior Project Managers inspired me to study Project Management and move away from the world of Architecture. These mentors very generously coached, inspired and encouraged me though my first early days of project management.

How physically fit are you?

I am fitter now post Covid than before. I was always moderately fit but now I love to walk my neighbouring Phoenix Park every day to get in at least 10,000 steps. That has been one of the few positives of lockdown and this pandemic.

What is more important – ambition or talent?

I do not believe you can separate them – one without the other is no good. Talent without ambition may lead to little by way of achievement and ambition with no talent will lead to being found out quickly!

However, I do see many people around me who are extremely talented but have no confidence. That is where the role of the mentor comes into play.

When you spot that talent in someone; reach out, support, guide, reward and encourage them to see the talent in themselves. That will soon turn into ambition for that talented individual.

Where in the world are you happiest?

Wandering through ancient ruins or historic city streets on a summer’s day in an Italian town with a glass wine as the reward for my efforts.

What would you like to own that you currently don’t?

An Italian hideaway surrounded by vineyards and historic ruins!

What drives you?

As a pre-construction director, I am driven by the desire to win work. However, this drive comes from a place of never settling with just doing work that is ‘okay’ or ‘good enough’.

I am driven to always deliver quality work, to learn more each time and be even better next time. I believe that no matter what age you are, you never stop learning.

What would you like to be remembered for?

For being passionate, driven, ambitious and kind.

What trait do you find most irritating in people?

People who tell me all the reasons that something cannot be done rather than all the ways they will strive to make something work.

I also find it difficult to relate to people who are not passionate about what they do. If you are missing passion, then find something else to do!

Life is too short to ‘clock in and out’. I am very fortunate that I am surrounded by a team of “can do’ and passionate people.

What would 18-year-old Lorraine think of who you are now

She would not recognise me. I was shy and lacking confidence at 18. I would certainly not have been described as driven and ambitious. I believe this really emphasises the power of a mentor. Being mentored helped me find my confidence and ambition.

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry now?

The biggest challenge the industry faces now is our response to the world of Covid 19 and the impact this virus will have on our economy and ultimately our Clients. What impact will Covid 19 have on the world of the built environment and the projects we planned to build? Will future schools, hospitals, student accommodation, third level buildings etc consider the new world of social distancing and remote working? Hopefully a vaccine will forever remove the needs for social distancing, but we have all become accustomed to remote working and learning. This may change forever how buildings function and flow and projects will need to be considered in the light of new user demands and requirements.

The demands of construction require constant innovation and development. We are required to build faster, higher, cheaper but with greater quality and safety standards. These may seem like opposing demands, but the industry has always delivered these objectives through; digital construction, off-site fabrication, modularisation, lean systems, methods of construction and passionate people.

Now we must still achieve these same high standards in a new Covid world and figure out what that actually means and looks like for our projects. Thankfully, the construction industry is filled with ‘can do’ and innovative people. Perhaps this is why I am happiest working in this sector. I am proud of the massive efforts and initiatives of the industry to get the sector back to work on May 18th. These initiatives will continue and grow to respond to new Client requirements and industry demands.

We need all who contribute to or benefit from the industry to work together to deliver the same quality projects to the same high safety standards despite the economic challenges created by Covid 19.