W4IT: Could you tell us more about who you are and what you do, your leadership style and philosophy?
MA: My name is Marilyn and I am a Building Services Engineering graduate from Brunel University London, currently working as the Operations Manager with a leading Maltese M&E contractor. Having started out as a draughts person, I quickly learned that my love of detail and direct communication skills allowed me to excel at project management, which has comprised most of my professional career. My role could be broken down into the strategic and the tactical; taking into account the long-term vision of the company by optimizing the short-term use of resources to maximize the efficiency of people and process. I would describe my leadership style as hands-on - I try to be present and involved within my company, be it at the office or on site with our work force. My philosophy has always been that there is no better substitute for learning than by getting your hands dirty and trying everything at least once to accumulate a real world understanding of what goes on in the field, to be able to expect the unexpected. This has served me well as I went from site supervisor on a prestigious heritage site of national importance through to becoming the overseer of all projects the company is entrusted with. I always make it a point to listen to my co-worker's point-of-view on any matter before making decisions, as I appreciate other people's personal experiences and expertise which might be valuable in shaping matters related to a department's operations.
W4IT: What has been the most career-defining moment for you?
MA: During my second project working as Site Coordinator on a high profile hotel refurbishment with complex requirements, I was given the opportunity to sit at the table where decisions were being hammered out and found appreciation for my project management skills and figurative fire-fighting abilities. This was a real turning point in my career, in that I was able to justify the trust placed in my abilities, which set me up for bigger projects that followed.
W4IT: How have technology and digital skills been relevant in your career progression?
MA: Coordinating time-sensitive projects and diverse tasks between multiple trades across contractors would have been impossible without the digital tools that I have come to depend on over the years. Refining my skills through CPD and my own initiative in the technologies that allow me to more efficiently handle increasingly large and complex projects, has provided my career with a source of strength and avoid stagnation.
W4IT: How important do you think developing digital skills is nowadays and why?
MA: I think developing digital skills is not only important but imperative to stay relevant in the ever-evolving advancements in STEM industries, like Engineering.
W4IT: How important is it in the context of women?
MA: I do not believe that gender plays much in our reliance on digital skills. Being tech-able is a must for anyone seeking to actively contribute to any sector.
W4IT: Do you notice a lack of women in leadership positions? If so, why do you think this is the case?
MA: Yes and no. It is true that women are underrepresented in certain key areas of our industry such as in construction or electrical fields however from my experience this has generally not been due to a lack of willingness to engage women at the appropriate level but more symptomatic of a grass roots failure to bring in women at entry level positions in preparation for career progression.
W4IT: What is one major leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
MA: To try and get as much of an understanding as possible on what a task entail. This way I can implement changes better and more effectively.
W4IT: What advice would you give the next generation of female leaders?
MA: Be assertive; considerate but decisive.