It all started when Alex discovered his passion for managing operations while working as a builder in Singapore. Thirteen years on the job and one degree later, Alex is exactly where he wants to be. He credits RMIT’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Construction Management for offering a great mix of practical experiences that prepared him for “the rigours of the construction industry”.
Alex’s day starts early. While he doesn’t drive the nails, turn the bolts or pour the concrete at the building sites, Alex gets his hands dirty in the day-to-day operations of several building sites at any given time.
Being a construction manager means being organised. He has to deal with many different people including architects, designers, engineers, suppliers and contractors, not to mention clients. The trick is keeping everyone in line and learning how to make sure the right directions are given for things to run smoothly.
“Managing people is never easy as we all have different characters and mindsets. It’s a high-pressure environment, but I’ve learnt that to be a strong-minded manager means being able to negotiate and manage conflicts in a calm and collected way. Then we can ensure a win-win situation for all parties,” says Alex.
Alex admits that the workplace in Singapore can be challenging as the workers come from China, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Philippines and many countries across Asia.
“This makes it difficult to cope with expectations and stresses in daily operations,” he says. But constantly working in these situations forces you to improve your people management and multi-tasking skills. It just comes with practice.
For Alex, the students that make it are those taking on internships while studying construction management, as it’s a crucial step to getting a foot in the door.
In this highly competitive industry, interns that are attached to local companies are paired up with a senior staff member. For a few months, they see first-hand what the real construction environment is like. Such experiences also enable them to work on a number of diverse projects so they can understand how theory applies in a real-life setting.
In fact, Alex himself has previously provided internship opportunities to students from RMIT and local universities.
“The interns gained practical experience and were better able to prepare for their exams since they had more than just books to rely on. We hope they’ll join the company after they graduate, as they already have that knowledge to bring to the table,” he recounts.
And what better place can there be to apply your construction management skills than a place such as Singapore, which is dynamic, fast-paced and bold in design? Imagine seeing a structure on the city skyline that you played a role in creating – that is the beauty and satisfaction of working in this exciting industry.
If you see yourself as someone who’s willing to take on these challenges and reap the benefits of a rewarding career that’s never dull, then construction management might just be for you. Check out RMIT’s Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Construction Management for a better idea.