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 Lauren Lemcke, Project Surveyor at MGAC | RLF.
MGAC: Welcome to the Impact Blog, Lauren! Let’s start off with you sharing a bit about your role.
Lauren Lemcke (LL): Thanks for having me! I’m a project surveyor in MGAC | RLF’s Brighton office in the UK. My role predominantly involves working as a quantity surveyor, but I also work as a contract administrator, and an employer’s agent.
MGAC: Nice. And for those who aren’t familiar, that’s more on the cost management side of things?
LL: That’s right. It’s quite varied, but predominantly on the cost side. We produce estimates for clients to help them understand the costs of their development, assist with the procurement of a contractor, put contracts in place, and value the work on site. When acting as an employer’s agent or contract administrator, that role is a little more like project management because you’re often running meetings and dealing with day-to-day queries.
MGAC: So, what’s been keeping you busy these days?
LL: I’ve been assisting on a project for Wiston Estate Winery. We’re helping expand their wine-producing capabilities and building out a tasting room, café, and whole tour experience. I’m also really excited to be working on a heritage project that involves the restoration of a Victorian structure called The Madeira Terraces. You can’t miss it if you live in Brighton. But it’s been left degraded for quite a long time. When it’s restored, it will leave a great mark on the city.
MGAC: That sounds like an awesome project, especially considering the history. Can you share more about it?
LL: The idea is to restore it back to its heritage condition as a promenade and open area for the public to enjoy. It’s a really cool project, but restorations can be tricky, in particular when there are so many unknowns. In this case, the information we have on how it was built is limited, it’s also been closed for many years as its deemed unsafe. So, all of that can complicate a budget! We need to account for accessibility upgrades like stairs and lifts. And the client has big sustainability aspirations as well, they have an internal policy of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. It will be a big project that’s split into phases, but we’re keen to get it to site next year.
MGAC: What a cool experience to be a part of. So, what led you to this position?
LL: I studied geography at university, and I was paired with a mentor who was a quantity surveyor. To be honest, I didn’t know what that was! I spoke to him over the phone, and realized his work was making a big impact on the city of Brighton. I thought that was really cool. He set me up with work experience to learn more, and it took off from there!
MGAC: You could say that! You mentioned you studied geography—what drew you to that initially?
LL: I always had an interest in global issues, current events, and sustainability. Geography tied all that together and involved learning skills that you can apply anywhere.
MGAC: Very true. So how long have you been doing this work?
LL: For just over two years now. And during that time, I’ve also completed a master’s in Quantity Surveying.
MGAC: Wow. So, you’ve been busy!
LL: I suppose I have! My next step is to become a chartered Quantity Surveyor and completing the APC, or Assessment of Professional Competence. I’m in the process of that now, and Lloyd Evans is a brilliant mentor. It involves writing about your experience in a case study, professional development, and a big final interview. I’m hoping to sit for the interview in November next year.
MGAC: Even though you learned about this path not too long ago, it seems like the perfect fit! What would your younger self think about your job today?
LL: I think she’d be impressed, definitely! Especially considering that in school you aren’t really introduced to these kinds of roles—especially as a female. If you had told me I’d be working in construction, getting boots on, and going on-site, I would have laughed! I didn’t think that was for me. But today, I love the variety of having an office job and also going on-site. And generally having an impact on the projects we work on. I find I’m constantly learning in this role, and I find that very interesting.
MGAC: That’s great. Can you share a bit about your workplace culture?
LL: People are enthusiastic about their jobs. We are passionate about what we do, and always focused on exceeding client expectations. We know nothing is too much and that it’s our job to find the answer, even if it’s something you haven’t encountered before. We’re always learning and we’re really supportive of our team—even as we still work from home.
MGAC: That kind of support is so important, and something we always aim to foster at MGAC. As you know, we’re closing the year on the heels of the exciting acquisition news—is there buzz in your office about what the future holds?
LL: People are very excited. In early October, we were called up to the London office to hear the news and meet Mark Anderson. It was great that he was there, and we saw that this is important to him. It’s true that the fit is great. We have similar values and experience. It brings new opportunities for areas we don’t currently work in. And to have contacts in North America is exciting!
MGAC: Continuing to look ahead, what impact do you hope to have through your work?
LL: Impacting the city I live in is important to me. It’s so rewarding to see it develop in a positive way through projects like The Madeira Terraces. I used to walk past that area when I was younger, and I would wonder, “What’s going on here?” Now I’m a part of giving it a new life—and one that everyone here in Brighton can enjoy.
MGAC: Talk about a rewarding project to deliver.
LL: Yes! There’s truly nothing more satisfying than seeing a job finish, and knowing you played a role in making that happen. It reminds you why you worked so hard, and why you always strive to do better.
MGAC: It sounds like you’ve covered a lot of ground in your two years on the job. What challenges have you been faced with so far?
LL: One of the biggest has been completing my master’s in two years while working full-time—it’s probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done!
MGAC: No kidding! What have you learned?
LL: I’ve learned that you need determination in everything. And if you put the hours in, you’ll get the most out of it, and it will help your career. With projects on-site, I’ve learned that each has its challenges.
MGAC: So true. Even though you’re still getting to know the people of MGAC, what about the firm has made an impact on you?
LL: When we first met, they were so keen to talk about their projects and accomplishments. We knew we could get on board with them because of that energy and enthusiasm. Offering the whole package to existing clients is something we’re really excited about. MGAC’s project portfolio is impressive, we’re really looking forward to working with one another.
MGAC: Absolutely! What would you say you have found the most rewarding about your job?
LL: Being able to be supported through your job and openly ask questions. Seeing a project be completed from spending all that time on it. That feels hugely satisfying.
MGAC: What gives you energy each day?
LL: I like to wake up early and get a workout in. It keeps me alert throughout the day. It’s a great way to set the day up, especially when working from home.
MGAC: What is your secret to winding down at the end of a long day?
LL: I love listening to podcasts, in particular motivational ones. My latest listens Happy Place with Fearne Cotton and On Purpose with Jay Shetty.
MGAC: Name a book that has made a significant impact on your life.
LL: I recently read The Magic. It’s a 28-day practice that opens your mind to being more grateful and manifesting good things. I believe in manifestation and think it’s a really cool thing to live by.
MGAC: Some might say you embody that; with all you’ve accomplished in your career to date! In addition to becoming chartered, what else is on your list?
LL: Helping others. I’d love to mentor someone and have an impact on their development—just like I’ve had the benefit of experiencing. In particular, I’d like to play a role in helping more females get into this industry.
MGAC: That’s great! Now it’s time for some rapid-fire questions. Are you ready?
LL: I am!
MGAC: First up: Describe your job in 5 words or less.
LL: Cost managing, problem solving.
MGAC: What’s the first thing you do at work every day?
LL: Make a nice cup of tea and sit down to read emails.
MGAC: And the last thing?
LL: Since I work from home, it’s really just closing everything down and making sure I’m not leaving anything too daunting for the next day.
MGAC: What’s the weirdest thing we might find in your desk or work bag?
LL: Maybe Christmas candles in early November?
MGAC: What’s your go-to weekday lunch?
LL: If I’m at home, I love making a pizza wrap. It’s a great quick, warm lunch.
MGAC: What’s the most used app on your phone?
LL: Either WhatsApp or Instagram.
MGAC: Looking ahead, what’s your biggest work goal for 2022?
LL: Getting chartered, to get to that level would be a huge achievement.
MGAC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
LL: I’d love to have a key role in advancing the sustainability of construction, maybe even helping establish a department at MGAC | RLF. Helping everyone understand the importance of sustainability in a project. Often people throw the term sustainability around, but I would like to see us take more of an advisory role on making it happen. I strongly believe it’s going to become compulsory on our future developments.
MGAC: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
LL: That’s hard…I’m like an open book! I used to be in a band; I played the guitar. I’d like to pick it up again sometime soon. Maybe that’s what I’ll do when I become chartered!
MGAC: What was your favorite part of 2021?
LL: I was promoted from assistant quantity surveyor to project surveyor. That was huge for me because it showed that all my hard work paid off.
MGAC: What are you most excited for in the New Year?
LL: Many things! But I’m moving at the end of this year, so it will be a new start for me in 2022!