'In at the deep end'

Image Credit - Patrick Arends

For the past 10 months I have been undertaking my year out placement at Plan A Consultants as part of my 4-year Sandwich Degree. The aim has been to gain real-life experience in Design Management to further enhance my degree by building practical experience into my academic studies. There are several definitions of Design Management within the industry. My time at Plan A has allowed me to experience Design Management from the Architects perspective rather than solely from a contractor’s point of view. From our small cohort of around 20 studying ‘Architectural Engineering and Design Management’ at Loughborough University we have all found ourselves undertaking very different roles of ‘Design Management’.

Studying Architectural Engineering and Design Management at Loughborough University has taught me a great deal about all aspects of the construction industry. However, the difficulty defining the broad and emerging role of a Design Manager has meant there are differences within the role I was taught about in University and the one which I am holding on my year placement at Plan A Consultants.

The course had been developed in response to the growing need for integration of design and construction in the ever-increasing overlap between disciplines in the construction industry. Design Management is not solely related to co-solution of packages during the construction phase however. This year I have found myself defining the process of design, working directly with architect teams to help manage the design coordination of large-scale projects. I have found this facet of design management fascinating, especially engaging directly with the architect team to assist in ensuring the design process runs as smoothly and productively as possible. Although having been taught the fundamentals of managing the design process; how to coordinate collaboration within temporary Project Organisations and the tools to enable this; you cannot be taught how a design team will operate in real life, especially under the pressures of a complex project or a demanding client.

I have found my experience at Plan A invaluable in providing a grounding in project logistics and relationships, which I aim to bring to my final year studies at Loughborough University. So far this year I have gained project experience and a better understanding of the architectural process, but most importantly have developed my confidence in a work place environment. The most rewarding aspect of my experience at Plan A I have found has been immersing myself in a project, interacting with the design team on a regular basis, to be in a position where I am able to provide valuable judgements and advice. I look forward to my future as a Design Manager, taking with me all of the experiences and knowledge gained through my year out placement at Plan A.

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