BCA-Building Careers - Build Knowledge and Jobs

Project Manager

Projects such as infrastructure and building construction are highly complex and because of their large scale, require someone to keep things on schedule and coordinate works from all parties involved. 

A project manager plays such role – from being involved in details such as managing the client’s budget and the calling of tender at the pre-tender stage to the final completion stage of the project.

A project manager is the key driver that keeps things together.

A day in the life of a Project Manager…

A Project Manager

Colin Tan, Tiong Seng Contractors

Success stories

Read about the motivations, inspirations and achievements of one of Singapore’s project managers.

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It is not easy for a woman to work in a male-dominated industry, but it is even harder for one who has young children to care for. As a mother of two young children, Xue Jia is grateful that her family and company, City Developments Limited (CDL), have given her the support she needs to balance family and work.
 
“It is crucial to have the support of both the family and company”, she says. “You have to spend time to communicate with your family and bosses, to let them know that you will finish your work, the quality will not be affected; but you also have the responsibility to take care of your family.”
 
Xue Jia, a BCA-CDL Built Environment Undergraduate Scholarship recipient, has a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from the Nanyang Technological University, and a master’s degree in Environmental Management from the National University of Singapore.
 
She grew up with a strong interest in Science and Mathematics, which led her to pursue engineering studies to develop those interests and put her passion to good use. She was also influenced by her father who used to work in the built environment sector.
 
A career that rewards
 
Her job as a project manager involves visiting construction sites, and managing projects through collaborations with various stakeholders such as designers, consultants and site contractors. A project manager needs to liaise with many different parties, so she feels while having technical knowledge is important, it is also essential to keep an open mind and have a willingness to learn, in order to develop soft skills to foster effective collaborations and realise a building development.
 
All that hard work pays off for her when she knows her inputs have helped to improve the product. There is also a strong sense of satisfaction when she receives recognition from stakeholders, and appreciation from purchasers.
 
During the course of her work with eco-developer CDL, Xue Jia has contributed to many firsts in sustainable building projects, such as City Square Mall (Singapore’s first eco-mall) and CDL Green Gallery @ Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum (Singapore’s first zero energy green gallery). Green projects like these require comprehensive thought and effort right from the start. Firstly, they require close collaborations with designers and professional consultants during the early design development so that passive design and innovations can be implemented right from the beginning. After which, at the procurement stage, a list of sustainable materials and products have to be carefully selected. Following that, site management and product implementation have to be carefully managed to ensure they are implemented according to specifications.
 
Xue Jia is currently working on The Brownstone executive condominium in Sembawang. CDL introduced the Prefabricated Prefinished Volumetric Construction (PPVC) method for the project, making it the first in Asia, and possibly the world’s largest PPVC application for a residential development.
 
Real-life Lego building
 
PPVC is a construction method where complete flats or modules, comprising multiple units – complete with internal finishes, fixtures and fittings – are manufactured in factories. They are then transported to the project site for installation. This sustainable building method helps to reduce on-site construction work, thereby mitigating environmental impacts, such as noise and dust pollution, at the project site. For The Brownstone project, about 4,300 building modules will be prefabricated off-site, and then assembled at the project site.
 
“It has been a great privilege for me to work on this project, and learn, first-hand, how PPVC can help move our industry towards greater productivity”, she shares.
 
For The Brownstone project, a productivity increment of over 40 per cent can be expected, saving about 55,000 man days. There is also stringent quality control as modules are fabricated in controlled factory conditions, and worksite safety is enhanced as fewer workers are required on-site. Along with this, worksite cleanliness is improved as less construction debris is generated.

She feels the benefits of PPVC will definitely help push the built environment in Singapore towards greater productivity and sustainability.
 
Exciting opportunities ahead

Such advancements and innovations have been the driving force behind the progress of our local built environment sector. Xue Jia has witnessed how CDL succeeded in championing green buildings as it invested in green features and innovations in their developments, as well as implementing sustainable construction and good site management practices. She also saw new policies and initiatives by the Ministry of National Development to help push productivity in the built environment sector, and reduce disturbances to neighbourhood communities while increasing safety standards and welfare for workers. 

At the same time, the Building and Construction Authority and its industry partners have been offering more scholarships to students, to attract and grow the pool of talent.

She foresees the industry will continue to see further developments in future.
 
“With the increasing use of new productive technologies and construction methods, there will be higher productivity and more Green Mark-certified buildings to welcome a better future. With more fresh talents to join and contribute to shaping Singapore’s landscape, the careers in the Built Environment sector can only get more exciting.”

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Ask Colin Tan, Senior Project Manager with Tiong Seng Contractors, what he does for a living and he’ll tell you he just has a great time. That doesn’t mean to say that Colin doesn’t work. It's just that he enjoys it that much that he doesn’t see it as work!

So what makes being a civil engineer so enjoyable? For Colin, it’s the thrill of seeing the process evolve from designs on paper to the finished structure, and the challenge of pioneering new methods and processes to improve work on-site.

One project Colin is particularly proud of is the Parc Emily Condominium. "I was involved in this eco-friendly project for the past three years and had to incorporate a lot of interesting concepts," Colin enthuses. One such project was the installation of a prefab toilet. All features from toilet works, ceiling works, shower screens, cabinets and mirrors were done off site, and the entire unit was put together and brought, completed, to the site for installation.

The construction industry is moving towards the adoption of more eco-friendly work practices and Colin is an avid supporter. "Over the years, we have progressed to using green dry wall processes for a cleaner working environment and as a way to save water," Colin says. "In addition, for all our projects, we have a filtration system where we collect rain water for construction use and as a way to manage silt drainage."

Though the work can be challenging at times, Colin takes it in his stride. At home, he fusses over another great love – his dog Dinky, as a way to relief his stress. Weekends are often spent with wife and Dinky at parks and beaches.

Colin urges any student considering engineering to follow the career path towards civil engineering. "There are plenty of prospects for good engineers, especially if you look out for new technology. Love your work and you will enjoy it."

Job scope

Some responsibilities a project manager has include:

  • Supervising and organising daily site activities
  • Coordinating with various parties and controlling progress of the project, making sure that the schedule is kept

Qualities

Here are some qualities that a competent project manager should have:

  • Aptitude for figures
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Good public relations and organisation skills
  • Enjoy problem solving

SALARY GUIDE FOR
UNIVERSITY GRADUATES
 

The salaries below serve as a guide for graduates in Civil Engineering and Project and Facilities Management 

Median monthly gross starting salary
Fresh graduates
$3,000 - 3,200
 
Source: MOM report on wages in Singapore, 2015 and other sources.
*Median monthly gross starting salaries includes basic wage, overtime pay, commissions and allowances. Bonuses are excluded.

Education route

Your education roadmap to becoming a project manager in the BE Sector:

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* The above chart is intended as a guide for general reference only.