Ruth Jennings

"Have a look around and undertake work placements wherever possible. There are a lot of career opportunities out there for graduates of architecture and it’s easier to engage in placements when you’re still a student"


CompanyEvent CommunicationsLocationLondonCourseBA Architectural StudiesPositionProject Manager

About Event Communications

Event Communications is a medium-sized multidisciplinary design studio, specialising in the interpretation, design and creative direction of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Whilst we are based in London and Dublin, our projects stretch across the globe, and vary in scale and content, ranging from feasibility studies and interpretive masterplans, to turnkey design and build projects. The studio is made up of 3D designers, graphic designers, museum interpreters and project managers.

Our previous projects include the interpretation and exhibition design of the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Titanic Belfast and the National Army Museum in London. The studio is currently working on the redevelopment of The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, the new Hans Christian Anderson Museum in Denmark and St Fagan’s National History Museum in Cardiff, (to name but a few!)

What are your main roles and responsibilities?

As a project manager, I provide a critical interface between base build and exhibition design works. I work alongside our designers to ensure that the quality of our designs is maintained and delivered. On a day-to-day basis, I liaise with clients, architects, engineers, fit-out contractors, showcase manufactures, lighting designers, AV specialists, model makers and cost consultants.

My work responsibilities vary depending on the scope and stage of a project, but I always look to identify moments of opportunity and risk to help deliver projects on time and to budget. As a Client-facing role, I need to know and understand the design intent, and, if necessary, defend design decisions. I create and maintain programmes to indicate how our designs shall develop and interface with other specialist works. I also write progress reports, manage sub consultant works, and keep track of our fees and internal resource.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the collaborative nature of my job, and enjoy working alongside a wide range of creatives to deliver unique and exciting projects. I can be both studio and site-based, and enjoy the opportunities to travel.

The project management team at Event is quite small, so we are always working on multiple projects at any given time. I enjoy the challenge of a fast-paced studio where no two-days are the same!

How did you get from your architecture degree to where you are now?

After graduating in 2014 I started working for a large museum fit out contractor on a children’s science project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My role as Assistant Project Manager, gave me my first insight into how large scale museums are fabricated and developed within a highly competitive, commercial setting. I gained useful logistic and construction knowledge, learning from joiners and metalwork fabricators in the workshop. I also carried out works at the Tower of London, which taught me how museum projects within highly secure and historically sensitive buildings are carried out.

In 2015, I joined Event Communications. I gained my Prince2 Project Management Practitioner award whilst working on the delivery of the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

How has your architecture degree shaped your career, and what knowledge, skills or values developed at SSoA have you found relevant in your progression?

During my second year at SSoA, I made the conscious decision to transfer onto the Architectural Studies degree, which helped me tailor my final year studies to suit my interest in architectural history. I dropped the design modules, and picked up modules which specialised in Conservation, Architectural Education and Sheffield’s 1900 Model. This ‘bespoke’ third year meant that I gained the most from my degree, and enabled me to start thinking about where my studies would take me after graduation.

My time at SSoA taught me how to effectively manage my time, (I often find myself thinking back to Satwinder’s ‘plate spinning’ lecture in third year!) and how to think logically through a series of tasks. Whilst I have always been inquisitive in nature, my time at Sheffield refined my ability to interrogate and ‘ask the right kind of questions.’

I often encounter a whole host of varied and interesting personalities at work. I believe the studio culture and emphasis on collaborative working at architecture school helped to develop my teamworking capabilities, (far more than if I had undertaken a purely lecture-based degree.) I am confident in communicating ideas, defending decisions and presenting alternative viewpoints; skills that are encouraged and developed at Sheffield.

My ability to understand the design process and read drawings is fundamental to my job within the creative sector. Although this sounds simple, it is not taught in other degree subjects and my background helps me to play a proactive role in dealing with Clients who aren’t necessarily from a design background.

What top tips would you offer architecture students who are considering alternative careers to architecture?

Throughout my time at SSoA, I championed alternative routes through architecture school. There seems to be an assumption that those who study architecture should become architects, which is wrong. Architecture school arms students with a multitude of transferrable and desirable skills, which are highly sought after in the workplace; work ethic, teamwork, creative thinking, and communication skills are all developed at Sheffield. My interest in heritage and the built environment has been fortified by my undergraduate studies, and I am now pursuing a career that builds on the skills and knowledge I explored at my time at the SSoA.

Tips:

Don’t be afraid to pursue your own interests and ideas through architecture school- (it’s far more encouraging to hear about a graduate’s genuine interests and pursuits, as opposed to those who just tried to appease their tutor!)

Research- have a look around and undertake work placements wherever possible. There are a lot of career opportunities out there for graduates of architecture and it’s easier to engage in placements when you’re still a student. I have found that employers are very interested in hearing about what students of architecture can bring to the workplace.

Network; talk to SSoA tutors, lectures, peers and other design students about their careers and interests. Get involved with projects and initiatives outside of the university- they can broaden your horizons. During my third year, I volunteered at Site Gallery, the ROCO and The Landmark Trust.

Get involved with the Architecture Student Network. The ASN made me reflect upon my time at architecture school and helped link me with other students of architecture from across the UK.

Where do you see yourself in future?

I have applied to undertake a Master’s programme in Building History in the autumn of 2017. It is my intention to amalgamate my working knowledge of project management, with a deeper, more specialist knowledge of the heritage built environment. I aspire to be a building curator within a heritage organisation, tasked with championing an historical property as chief artefact and working as the ‘Client’ in future heritage interpretation projects.

Aside from this, my parents are currently undertaking the renovation of an 18th century farmhouse in the Herefordshire countryside, and it is my intention to gain hands-on construction ‘know how’, as I assist my father in the build.