Katie Chalmers

Cost Manager

"I am working as a cost manager based full time at a client site in Monthey, Switzerland, I transferred here from Turner & Townsend’s Edinburgh office in 2009. The client needed someone at short notice who spoke French, so I was contacted to find out if I would be interested in relocating. After quick but careful consideration I decided to seize this daunting but also exciting opportunity."

What made you choose Turner & Townsend?

I chose Turner & Townsend because I understood that they valued people based on their capabilities, skills and behaviours rather than a precise formula of past experience. They were keen to hire me despite my lack of experience of the construction industry (I have a degree in Philosophy and Mathematics from the University of Edinburgh). I was given the opportunity to gain the right knowledge and experience by studying an RICS approved post graduate diploma while working full time. The interesting and challenging career offered by Turner & Townsend suits my skills and interests.

Describe a typical day at work.

I work very closely with the client’s project managers and project engineers. On a typical day my time will be split by carrying out regular activities such as project cost reporting, final account management and change monitoring alongside providing support to the engineers with whatever issues they may currently be dealing with. This is why the client values having us based on site, so that the engineers can pop into our office and we can provide rapid solutions to their problems. I also spend part of my time on strategic level tasks, such as assessing and analysing a particular way of doing things in order to develop and deliver improved systems and processes.

What has been your proudest achievement at work?

A significant proportion of the work I have done for the client has been to develop improved ways of working; it is extremely satisfying to see the value added and to hear the appreciation of the engineers.  Seeing the positive impact of the work Turner & Townsend has been doing and receiving great feedback from the client is very rewarding. We provide intelligent solutions to their problems saving them time and money, I enjoy seeing the real difference the work I do makes.

How has Turner & Townsend helped you to achieve your career goals?

Turner & Townsend gave me the opportunity to achieve an RICS accredited qualification while working full time. I benefited enormously from being able to directly apply what I was learning to my daily activities at work, this allowed me to learn and develop quickly.

Turner & Townsend has supported me in achieving the post graduate qualification I needed to sit my APC but has also given me the support I needed to relocate to Switzerland at short notice.

How have you been given the opportunity to make the difference in your role?

I have had the opportunity to play a central role in designing and implementing the service we provide to the client. They were a new client when I arrived and over two years we have built up a service that makes a real difference to the client. This account is now a European Key Account and we have progressed from providing support on the site in Switzerland to supporting projects across Europe, including France, Spain, Hungary, and Greece.

How would you describe the culture at Turner & Townsend?

There is a very strong team work culture, supporting each other, both playing to our individual strengths, valuing each individual’s input and working well as a team to provide the best overall solution for the client. There is a lot of emphasis on continuous improvement and personal development, helping individuals to optimise their potential.

How has your role given you scope to grow?

This role has allowed me to develop and improve by being trusted with more and more responsibility. Since relocating to a client’s office my confidence has increased significantly as I have had to be a lot more independent and autonomous. My immersion in the client’s organisation has given me the opportunity to build strong relationships with the client’s team and to drive the development of the account.

This role threw me in at the deep end and forced me to grow and develop and get outside my comfort zone. I have received recognition within Turner & Townsend because I know the clients business and have been able to grow the account due to my good understanding of their business. Since starting this commission my role has evolved from a junior support role to a people manager and the key client interface.

What advice would you give to someone considering working in your field?

I would say you need to enjoy working as part of a team but also be capable of taking initiative and being innovative with the solution you propose and always be willing to learn and develop. We distinguish ourselves by providing intelligent solutions to our clients. I think you need to enjoy problem solving. Also, most importantly, you need to be capable of building strong relationships with both your clients and colleagues.

Describe your job in three words.

Interaction, problem-solving, learning.

Have you enjoyed any social activities at Turner & Townsend?

Team building is important at Turner & Townsend; I have enjoyed an afternoon canyoning in Scotland, took part in the Edinburgh marathon as part of a Turner & Townsend relay team and have enjoyed a number of evening events, having a meal and drinks with my colleagues.


"Turner & Townsend gave me the opportunity to achieve an RICS accredited qualification while working full time. I benefited enormously from being able to directly apply what I was learning to my daily activities at work."

Katie Chalmers, Cost Manager