Interview with Mary Rose Griffiths

Mary Rose Griffiths is a Partner and Board member of G&T and has been with the firm for 21 years. She is a highly experienced development monitoring specialist and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Building. 

A champion of the firm’s first Women’s Development Programme, she is also one of the judges of the WICE (Women in Construction & Engineering) Awards for the second year running.

Where was your first job?
Assistant quantity surveyor with specialist curtain walling and façade manufacturer Hans Schmidlin, a Swiss company.

Who is your role model/mentor?
I never had a specific role model or mentor but I’ve learned from many people over the years.

Most exciting project you’ve worked on (so far)?
From an engineering perspective, the most exciting one was monitoring the Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf, which entailed the construction of a 250m long station box under the water of the West India Dock. The two most professionally interesting projects were both very challenging ones: Wembley Stadium, where I was part of a technical advisor team to the group of lenders, and working on the investigation for Audit Scotland into the procurement and management of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood.

"I was part of a team working on construction and property insolvencies and the work that we did was incredibly interesting and challenging."

Mary Rose Griffiths, G&T Partner

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WICE Judging Day 2018 - © Christina Solomons

What are the highlights of your career so far?
I’ve had many highlights but for sheer variety the work that I did in the recession in the early 90s stands out. I was part of a team working on construction and property insolvencies and the work that we did was incredibly interesting and challenging. I could go from procuring and project managing the completion of an insolvent residential development, managing the sales process and setting up the management company for the completed development, to assisting in the sale of large contracting businesses to new purchasers following insolvency, to the hands-on management of part completed orders in an insolvent specialist joinery manufacturer where I liaised with clients, managed the production process in the factory and arranged transportation for the completed orders.

Why the Women’s Development Programme?
The programme was set up in 2012, in what we believe was an industry first, to develop, retain and advance women within the firm. It has been a great success.

What impact do you feel your gender has had on your career?
I’m not sure that my gender has had much of an impact on my career. I’ve never looked at myself as being different to my co-workers. Perhaps that was because there were just no other women that I could readily see – I was just a quantity surveyor or a project manager, not a female quantity surveyor or a female project manager.

How do you perceive the roles of women in the industry are changing?
It’s good to see the number of women in construction continuing to increase. When I started out in the industry 30 years ago there were very few women working in technical roles. After a number of years I might come across a female architect, but then only very rarely, and my co-workers for quite a long time were all men.

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© Christina Solomons
"I think it’s more about getting the message out to young girls as early as possible about the interesting and rewarding careers that can be made in the construction industry."

Mary Rose Griffiths, G&T Partner

How can the profession be more welcoming to women?
I think it’s more about getting the message out to young girls as early as possible about the interesting and rewarding careers that can be made in the construction industry, as G&T does with our “Change the Skyline” initiative. Supportive families are also key to encouraging girls to make decisions to work in construction. My interest in construction from a very early age was encouraged by my parents and my insistence that I wanted to make my career in construction was fully supported by them even though at the time it was not considered something that women really did. Cultural change takes a long time and I am convinced that, with the right policies in place, we will see the percentage of women entering the industry continue to rise. Of course, having attracted women into the industry it is important that we retain them and this means being supportive of parents in raising their families whilst working.

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WICE Awards - © Christina Solomons

Is there anything you would have done differently in your career?
No, I’m very happy with the way my career has developed. I also think it’s a waste of time and energy re-running history in your head. I try to look forward, not back.

How does it feel to be judging the WICE Awards again this year?
I’m delighted to have been invited back to be a judge again. I learned a lot from my experience last year and found it a very rewarding process to be involved in. There are over 50 judges, all senior people from across the industry, so it’s a great opportunity to meet and get to know them. The judging process is very rigorous, as we have to select short-lists for each category from a pool of over 350 formal nominations. The final judging day, when all of the short-listed candidates are formally interviewed, is very intensive but also very enjoyable. We see some very strong candidates and it’s great to see women now being represented in traditionally male dominated areas such as contracting, tunnelling and underground engineering, rail engineering and aerospace engineering, as well as the more traditional areas of architecture, project management, quantity surveying and construction law.

Mary Rose Griffiths took part in the WICE 2018 Awards. Read more about it on their website.

Find out more about Mary Rose in her profile.

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