Take 5 with Shakira Caird

Take five - time out with #TeamISG: Shakira Caird

Shakira Caird finished her degree in Quantity Surveying from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, following in her father’s footsteps as a Quantity Surveyor. Born and raised in Auchterarder, a small town in Scotland, she moved to Dubai in August 2022 to work with ISG in the Middle East after spending few years at the business unit in Scotland.

Did you always want to have a job like yours? If not, what led you to your position? 

During my school years, I actually wanted to be either a midwife or a lawyer. I soon changed my mind when I realised, I didn’t like hospitals and law was an awful lot of reading! My strongest subject at school was maths, and after going along to building sites with my dad, who’s also a Quantity Surveyor, for work experience, my interest in the industry took hold. I realised the construction industry was male dominated and this inspired me to pursue a career in the industry and be a part of breaking preconceived notions.

Please share few sentences outlining your current role at ISG. 

My role includes procurement, managing costs with both the subcontractors and the client’s consultants, pricing variations and working closely with the Managing Surveyor and the rest of the project team to ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible from a commercial perspective.

What’s been the proudest moment of your career? 

I’d say my proudest moment is twofold! Moving to Dubai and having to build a whole new life out here whilst navigating a new work environment was challenging but something I am very proud of myself for. I am also proud of the fact that Mina A’Salam was the first project I completed as part of ISG in the Middle East. The effort of the team and quality achieved on such a large-scale project is admirable, especially on such a prestigious hotel for an important client.

Take 5 with Shakira Caird
Shakira and her colleague Katie Whitelaw, Site Manager at ISG in the Middle East, as they both leave Scotland to embark on a new journey to Dubai.

What were the major challenges you faced working on the refurbishment of Mina A’Salam’s rooms and suites?

Logistically Mina A’Salam was a huge challenge due to the fact the hotel remained open and occupied throughout our programme. As we carried out fit-out works floor-by-floor, we had guests in rooms above and below our work, meaning we had to work extremely closely with the hotel staff to ensure guests were kept happy and any noisy work was carried out within reasonable hours. 
On a personal note, another challenge I faced was joining the half-way through the project. It took time for me to get to grips with the high-quality design, as well as the scale of the project, with my main focus being pricing and submitting variations for the client’s review.

What are the key wins taken from this project?

The biggest win on this project would be the relationships built with the client and consultants. The quality achieved on this project was second-to-none and is a fantastic representation of what can be accomplished when we work collaboratively with the client and consultants.

What was your first impression of the construction industry and how were your original thoughts challenged?

Before I started working in the industry, I pictured working with an all-male team with outdated views and ways of working. However, this was not the case, and I was working alongside a predominantly young and mixed team who were all very forward-thinking. After hearing first-hand experience from my dad, who has been in the industry for over 30 years, it is clear the industry has come on leaps and bounds.

What do you do for fun? and what is on your bucket list?

I feel very lucky to live in Dubai, there is always something going on! There is an amazing social scene here to help you settle quickly. I joined a golf society where I met some great people who have become close friends. The weekends usually involve reading my book on a beach, heading out on a paddle board or trying out new places to eat. Dubai is not short of amazing restaurants, so as a real foodie there’s always a new place to try! Top of my bucket list is skydiving! I’d also love to do a sunrise safari and hot air balloon ride.

If you could have any superhero power in the world, what would it be? And why? 

I would choose teleportation – I’d love to be able to click my fingers and be somewhere totally different, whether that’s on holiday, at home visiting family and friends or avoiding the commute home!

How has it been being a woman working in construction?

I have been very fortunate in my career so far and have worked with diverse teams which have included experienced female surveyors as my mentors. Having their guidance has been invaluable as they have been in my position, they were there for advice and allowed me to gain the confidence I needed to navigate the early years of my career in the industry. 

What advantages have you been able to bring? 

I feel as though I can bring a different perspective and thought process, which can be useful when it comes to planning, analysing and problem solving. I am a people person and thrive in building rapport with my team, supply chain and clients.

What would you say to other women wanting to work in this industry? 

Never doubt yourself or your knowledge and have the confidence to speak up. It can be daunting if you are the only female in a meeting especially if you are just starting out in your career but stand your ground and remember your input is still valuable.

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