Margaret Conway, project manager at McAleer & Rushe, has been crowned Construction Manager of the Year 2017 at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel last night (September 27), becoming the first woman ever to win the overall title.
Conway won the gold medal in the Offices category for her work on Clarendon House, a £22m nine-storey office block in Belfast city centre, before being named as the overall winner.
She triumphed over eight other gold medal winners who all displayed similar levels of professionalism in their categories.
The judges felt Conway stood out because this was her first project management role on the contractor’s first Level 2 BIM scheme. Her hard work and organised methodical approach ensured the project stuck to its very tight budget, but was also actually delivered two months early, they added.
Her achievement is historic as she is the first overall female winner of the top award since CMYA was established in 1979. She joins a long list of prestigious winners who have gone on to become industry leaders, including Alan Crane, Howard Shiplee and Ian Eggers.
CIOB President Rebecca Thompson said: “Margaret is a true inspiration for anyone thinking of entering this exciting and challenging industry. As well as remaining in control of the immense technical and logistical challenges of her day job, her inclusive style has encouraged young people to get involved in construction. Our sector badly needs a more diverse workforce and Margaret shines out as a young leader who is making a genuine difference."
Conway was not the only female gold winner on the night. Karen Fairhurst MCIOB also took the top prize in the Secondary Schools category for her work on the £15.3m St Hilda’s High School in Liverpool.
Fairhurst, who works as a project manager at Morgan Sindall, delivered her project seven weeks early, 5% under budget and to an outstanding level of quality internally and externally, the judges said.
Both women deserve high praise in triumphing in such a competitive and challenging field and reflect the progress the CMYA has made over the last few years as more women are not only nominated but are also receiving recognition and the top awards, they added.
Conway and Fairhurst join previous recent female winners such as Leanne Broderick of John Sisk & Son, who secured a silver category medal for phase 2 of the Rathbone Market apartments in Canning Town in 2015, and Julia Howard MCIOB, formerly of Wates, who was the silver winner in her category in 2013 for the Royal Hill School in Greenwich, south London, the refurbishment of a Victorian school building plus a new extension.