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­MGAC Impacts: Gurpreet Nahal on Bhangra Dancing, Confidence Boosters, and Jumping Out of Planes


Gurpreet at a young age with her grandfather, whom she considers her role model and a daily source of motivation.

The Impact Blog is a spotlight series that highlights and celebrates the diverse employees that make MGAC tick. Beyond their day-to-day schedules, we want to know how they have a greater impact on their colleagues, their company, and the communities in which they live and work. We want to know what makes them get out of bed in the morning, what led them to their current role, and what they hope their lasting impact will be.

Today, we get to know Gurpreet Nahal, Assistant Cost Consultant at MGAC.

MGAC: Hello and welcome to the Impact Blog, Gurpreet!

Gurpreet Nahal (GN): Thanks!

MGAC: What is your role here at MGAC?

GN: I am an Assistant Cost Consultant in the Birmingham office. I’m currently working on quite a few sports facilities, helping with everything from the tendering process and contracts through to the actual mobilisation onsite and agreements toward final accounts.

MGAC: When did you join MGAC?

GN: I started in May of last year. I came straight out of University to MGAC. I actually finished my last exam on the 12th of May, and started at MGAC on the 15th! I’m so grateful I was able to step into this role that quickly.

MGAC: No kidding! How did you first hear about MGAC?

GN: MGAC’s name was thrown around my University quite a bit. MGAC’s Birmingham office is quite close to Aston University—less than ten minutes walking distance—so the company often came up when people were discussing career options among local cost consultancies and construction firms.

MGAC: Very cool! 

GN: Yes! I always had MGAC’s name in my head. During my placement year, I worked for a contractor, but realised that wasn’t the right fit for me. I decided to explore more consulting options, and MGAC seemed like a perfect fit. The projects the firm had worked on were fascinating, and it felt like there was lots of potential for me to grow.

MGAC: What was it that led you to the industry and to the idea of pursuing a degree in quantity surveying?

GN: When you’re younger, it seems like everyone’s either good at English or math. Math has always been my strong suit. But I had to decide what to do with it. Everyone talks about banking and accountancy, however this wasn’t of interest and came across quite repetitive. Eventually, when I was around 16, my school advised, and they were able to organise some two-week internships over the next couple of years. I did one at a law firm in the human resources and finance departments, and one at a construction firm. I really enjoyed those two weeks at the construction firm. I could appreciate the amount of work that went into projects before getting into construction and began to learn about the role of quantity surveying. From there, I had my heart set on pursuing that degree.

MGAC: Sounds like you found the right fit!

GN: Yes! I’ve grown so much here at MGAC. I have really been able to build my confidence: I carry myself better. I’m good at negotiating. I’m good at getting my points across. I was never a shy person, but holding a meeting with 20 people isn’t something I ever had the opportunity to do before! The idea was intimidating. I’d worry about whether people wouldn’t take me seriously because of gender or cultural differences, or because I’m still building my career. Now, I carry myself more confidently and know that people see me as a skilled person in this industry.

MGAC: That’s really excellent. What types of projects are you focusing on?

GN: I’m currently working on sports facilities. I think I have probably 30 projects at the moment!

MGAC: Having 30 projects at once will keep you busy! 

GN: Yes, it’s quite a lot, but many of them are similar to one another in terms of size and scope. That’s why I’m able to take on that many at once. And, for the most part, they don’t have a very long project duration. That’s beneficial for learning on the job and building experience, as I can start and finish a project fairly quickly.

MGAC: Very true!

GN: I’ve learnt so much—even things that I wouldn’t have even considered before. I have all this knowledge from a degree, but a degree is theoretical. When you’re on the front end—speaking to clients, speaking to applicants, going on-site, analyzing, checking in on contractors—you pick up so much. In action, it’s all quite different from what I expected, but in a good way. I really enjoy my job. I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m not bored either! I don’t think there’s been a single day where I’ve been bored. So many nine-to-five jobs drag on for hours, and so far, my day has never dragged on! And, I’ll be starting to manage my own projects soon, so I’ll probably be even busier going forward, which is great.

MGAC: Are you a big sports fan, or are you learning a lot about the world of sports on the job, too?

GN: The latter! The projects are a mix of rugby pitches, football pitches, and multi-use pitches. Some are designated for competitive use, and others are recreational. Most are new builds, but there are refurbs, too. I’m learning a bit about all of it as I go!

MGAC: What does it look like managing multiple projects at once?

GN: It’s different every day and varies based on the stage the projects are in. A handful of the projects are currently onsite. And about 20 of them have yet to get planning permission. That early phase is quite busy, with a lot of phone calls and emails going back and forth with clients, suppliers, and contractors.

MGAC: With every day being different, what does a perfect workday look like for you?

GN: Let’s see. One of my projects is in north Wales, which is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive. I actually love making that drive because I have time to listen to music and take a break from screen time. Then, I’ll be on-site in back-to-back meetings for the day before heading back again. I enjoy these days because I get to step away from email and phone calls to some extent. But it’s all about balance: I have days like this, and days where I am more active in the office. Nothing is ever routine in that way. So, for that reason, every day is a favourite day!

MGAC: It’s been incredible hearing about the ways you’ve hit the ground running in your new role. As you look ahead, what impact do you hope to make at MGAC?

GN: In construction, there’s not a lot of diversity. There are not many ethnic minorities or women. I fit into both boats, so I would really like to show women and other people within my ethnic community that this industry is for them, too. That visibility is important, and being able to share what this job is actually like is important, too. For women, it’s not all men in hard hats catcalling, as this is often the stereotype and misconception perceived! You’re respected, and you can have a huge impact. So, the impact I’d like to have is showing diverse people that this industry is for them, too.

MGAC: That’s a great answer.

GN: We also have the opportunity to be thoughtful about the work we do. We are able to recommend suppliers, and I can, for instance, choose suppliers who are prioritizing things like sustainability. Looking after our environment is important to me and to many of our clients, so being able to have that be part of the equation when we are talking about strategies and outcomes is rewarding.

MGAC: So true. What gives you energy to keep up with everything that’s on your plate?

GN: Honestly, I have no idea! Outside of work, I am working toward my chartership. I also have my own business—non-construction-related—that I take part in three times a week in the evenings. So, to answer your question, I have no clue!

MGAC: Wow! What’s your business?

GN: I teach Bhangra & Giddha dancing, which is Punjabi cultural dance. I teach routines, as well as fitness classes—kind of like an Asian twist to a Zumba class! I’m very into keeping fit and healthy. During the workday, I spend a lot of time behind a desk or at the wheel, so I like to stay active when I’m not at work. And during the workday, I make sure to go on a 20-minute walk to stretch my legs.

MGAC: As someone who’s always in motion, do you have a go-to way to wind down?

GN: I’m not sure I ever wind down! But, I think I destress in the studio through the classes I teach. I know some people have spa days, but for me, my downtime is spent in motion! That’s how I find my calm and how I leave thoughts about the workday behind for a bit. Sometimes reading helps, too.

MGAC: We love to collect book recommendations on the Impact blog. Do you have a favourite to throw out?

GN: One book I’d recommend is Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. It’s an amazing book, with teachings from two different perspectives on financial literacy and independence, and you see the pros and cons of each side as you read. It’s a very motivational book!

MGAC: Noted! Now, are you ready for some rapid-fire questions?

GN: Fire-away!

MGAC: You’re starting the workday. What’s the first thing you do?

GN: Grab my lemon water—I always try to stay hydrated.

MGAC: And the last thing? 

GN: Make sure I have some downtime without meetings or phone calls. That way I never end the day stressed and can leave work worries at the door when I leave.

MGAC: What’s the first thing on your to-do list right now?

GN: Check emails.

MGAC: What’s the most interesting thing we might find on your desk or in your work bag?

GN: Well, in an industry with mostly men, it’s probably the hairbrush on my desk!

MGAC: What can’t you get through the workday without?

GN: Listening to music on my AirPods. I feel like I’m at my best when I’m listening to upbeat Punjabi music. I feel like I can take over the world! If you looked at me, you’d just see me typing away at my keyboard, but in my head, there’s a club going on!

MGAC: What’s the most-used app on your phone?   

GN: TikTok.

MGAC: Describe your job in five words or less.

GN: Detail-oriented. Busy. Fun!

MGAC: What’s your biggest work goal for the year ahead?

GN: Make lots of progress on working toward my chartership. Continue to become more independent with projects. Tackle some bigger projects, either physically or budget-wise.

MGAC: What would your dream project look like?

GN: My dream project would probably be a skyscraper. The bigger the project, the more complications you have with it—weather, for instance, being a big factor the higher you go. I feel like it would be fascinating to work around that.

MGAC: What’s your go-to workday lunch?

GN: A wrap and a packet of crisps from Tesco.

MGAC: What’s your favourite new industry trend?

GN: Sustainability. It’s getting more and more important as younger generations enter the workforce.

MGAC: What are you known for in the office?

GN: Being a chatterbox—I’m always talking to someone!

MGAC: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?

GN: I’ve jumped out of a plane! I did a skydive for charity spin a few years ago for orphans in need. I raised £5,500 with sponsorships. And then, jumped out of the plane!

MGAC: Where would we find you if you’re not at work?

GN: In the gym or dance studio!

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