Project Management at PwC, how does that work?

Project Manager, Hanan Husaini, takes us into Project Management at a Big 4 Firm, reveals the skills you need to succeed, and offers advice on how to navigate a career in a male dominated industry.

Having dreamt of becoming an architect since she was a school student, Hanan Husaini was understandably devastated when she narrowly missed out on being accepted into a degree in architecture. Fortuitously, it was because of this ‘rejection’ that she was able to realise what type of career she actually wanted to create – one in Project Management.

“This was a defining moment in my life because it steered my career in a completely different direction to what I had initially planned for myself. I decided to take up Project Management and planned to transfer to architecture after my first year of uni. However, during my first year I took up a few architectural electives and completely hated it!”

Forced to reassess what it was she really wanted to do, Hanan brought it back to the basics of what she was most passionate about – “working with people, being part of a team and being able to solve problems collaboratively” – and continued pursuing Project Management. She soon discovered it is an area of work that encompasses all of these elements.
“I quickly came to understand that Project Management was an interchangeable skillset that you could apply in your career across any industry, but also on a day-to-day personal level. It brought together everything I loved, being creative,  solving problems, working with people and making an impact on the community and world that surrounds me.”
Cut to present day and Hanan is a Project Manager (Senior Consultant) within Capital Projects, which sits within our Infrastructure and Urban Renewal team. Here she shares in our passion for improving Australia’s healthcare system. This is something she grew particularly interested in after learning “how poor some of our health care facilities are across New South Wales” and how much of an impact a Project Manager could have in improving this during her previous role with Health Infrastructure.

“I have been involved in the design management and planning of the Westmead Hospital. I contributed to the clinical design of the hospital, which comprised of working with the design team including architects and engineers, and the hospital staff to finalise the design of the hospital. This ranged from high level things such as orientation of bedrooms to minute details such as how many GPOs are required within each room.”

Recalling one “super cool” problem she worked across, Hanan says she helped resolve how highly infectious patients are transferred and treated to mitigate risk of spreading disease. She covered everything from “how you transfer an infectious patient from an ambulance bay to the infectious IPU”, to “how you go about decontaminating the IPU after the patient has left”.  

However, it’s not all healthcare work that the team undertakes as they are regularly encouraged to explore new areas of interest. For Hanan, this came in the way of sports infrastructure.

“I’ve also worked on the Allianz Stadium brief. This included drafting the functional requirements of the new stadium. A design is then developed by a contractor based on the functional requirements outlined in the brief. As part of our research, we got to go to a cricket match at the SCG – my first ever!”

It’s this diversity and flexibility to not only work across a range of projects but to engage in different types of work on those projects that Hanan relishes most as a member of the Capital Projects team.

“The work we do in Capital Projects is so diverse and take us to very special places that you wouldn’t think PwC would ever be involved in. It ranges from on-site construction management, to writing business cases and Functional Briefs, to design management, to procurement, and to contract administration in a range of industries including education, health, defense, and sports infrastructure.”

It’s also the opportunity to make a meaningful societal impact that has her hooked on life as a Project Manager!

“When working on a project for years, you focus on the building blocks that make up a project. On a day-to-day basis these may seem minute, but when you step back you see the bigger picture and realise just how much of an impact the work you do has on both your client but the end users and society as a whole.”

When asked on what types of people do well in Capital Projects, she says it’s less about what degree you studied and more to do with your ability to collaborate over complex projects.

“We are so diverse with educational backgrounds ranging from engineering, architecture, commerce, law, project management and more. We work as a team and support one another to succeed as a team.”

And as for fellow young women looking to trailblaze career paths in similarly male dominated industries, Hanan offers some valuable advice…“Embrace it!”.
“Working in a traditionally male dominated industry can be intimidating, particularly when some of the time you can find yourself being the only female in the room. But don’t let this discourage you. Embrace it! It provides a great point of difference. It is what makes you unique and offers you an opportunity to add value.”
“Women bring a different perspective to the table and solve problems in a different way to men. This is valuable in a Project Management setting when you need to resolve untraditional issues in a dynamic and innovative way. It is our strength!”

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