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Interview with
Emma Bell
Senior Project Manager

Emma Bell is a Senior Project Manager and specialises across the planning, development and construction phases for both client and customer-side Government/Commonwealth sectors.

Currently, Emma works predominantly for Defence which she services between Newcastle, Canberra and her base in Sydney. With a Bachelor’s degree in Business/Project Management and a Certification of Practising Project Management from the AIPM, we are fortune to have had Emma’s expertise at Coffey for the past 2 years.

What inspired you to get into this field of study?

I’m actually a qualified primary school teacher which encapsulates my passion for helping people meet their objectives. When looking to branch out I thought I could align that passion with my love of working in the construction sector which started when I lived in the Northern Territory and worked for the Northern Territory Major Infrastructure Department.

I joined Coffey because of the opportunities to work on significantly larger projects that allowed me to develop my skillset more strategically.  I’m so glad I did.

Tell us about the challenges and rewards you face in your role?

As a project manager I have learnt to never assume, ask questions and to always be honest. 

Challenges are always great learning opportunities. As a project manager I have learnt to never assume, ask questions and to always be honest.

It is important to get to know your stakeholders, not just at a business level but personally. By finding out what makes them tick you can build rapport and trust. Every stakeholder is different, therefore the need to have a flexible and adaptive personality is critical.The most challenging aspect of my role has been to ensure I am always a step ahead of my stakeholders. By identifying potential issues early, I will try to resolve or mitigate them before they escalate to a client issue. Critical thinking and problem solving are essential in my role.

Reward for me is when I’ve achieved a collaborative working relationship with all stakeholders/client working in sync as a ‘team’. Satisfaction is seeing smiling faces at the completion of a project knowing you have delivered on time and within budget.

Tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on at Coffey that have been inspirational to you?

As Project Manager Contract Administration (PMCA) I was part of a team who successfully delivered a Parliamentary Works Committee approval for Defence - Airforce. I also worked as part of a team to prepare a Feasibility Report for Defence Estate Planning in relation to a Barracks in Adelaide.

I assisted in the design phase of ‘Schools Infrastructure NSW’ for the Department of Education.

I am now working on the deferred works component of the NACC Defence project, Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown, which is the largest Defence PMCA project to date in Australia.

What advice would you give yourself starting out in your career?

Never be afraid to ask questions; how else can a good project manager be confident they have clarified and validated scope requirements.