Director of Infrastructure, UK, Turner & Townsend
IJ Samuel, an Inspirational Black female Leader in the Construction Industry and Director at Turner & Townsend, shares her remarkable journey and her admiration of BPIC network’s impact in the construction and Built Environment sector.
From her impressive educational background to her strategic role at Turner & Townsend, her unwavering commitment to fostering diversity, and her profound passion for nurturing talent, IJ emerges as a true visionary in the construction industry. Here's a glimpse into her transformative journey as a leader on major projects.
IJ's professional journey began after she completed her BEng in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and earned an MSc in Electronic Communication and Computer Engineering. She started her career as a Controls Systems Engineer in the Oil and Gas sector, which laid the foundation for her remarkable transition into the construction industry.
The Role – Director, Infrastructure Programme Management
IJ's role as a Director at Turner & Townsend is marked by her strategic vision and leadership prowess. Her role is dynamic, overseeing an array of responsibilities, from leading the PMO to fostering client relationships and meticulously orchestrating the strategy, set-up, and successful delivery of major projects and programmes. In her work for the world leading airport at Heathrow, IJ leads a diverse, twenty-five-strong PMO team for the Security Programme as well as supporting the overall capital PMO team. She has established new controls processes and assurance frameworks for the programme which aims to upgrade passenger and colleague security screening to meet the Department for Transport's security mandate. IJ is proud to contribute to such an important programme for Heathrow because it will revolutionise the travel experience at Heathrow for both local and international communities.
Working At Turner & Townsend
“Turner & Townsend allowed me to develop my career, lead on different projects and clients, and accomplish my ambitions.” – IJ Samuel
IJ's aspiration to be part of an organization championing positive change led her to Turner & Townsend. Rooted in the ethos of "making the difference," she found the ideal platform to nurture her career. Her contributions in leading transformational projects, such as HS2, Nuclear Defence Authority and Heathrow Airport’s projects and programmes, enables her to gain profound insights from various client's perspective. Driven by innovation, IJ is dedicated to transforming performance for clients and the broader society.
Navigating The Construction Industry as a Black Female Leader
“I am committed to diversifying the talent pipeline at the highest level of decision making. I am passionate about bringing others along on the journey with me and providing opportunities to give others a seat at the table, especially because from a leadership perspective, diversity of thoughts is crucial for innovation.” – IJ Samuel
As a black female who was often ‘one of the few’ in her engineering classes at University, IJ isn't fazed by the construction industry's diversity challenges. Instead, she has taken a strategic approach of becoming an ambassador and an advocate for diversity & inclusion. IJ recognizes the value of developing talent and empowering individuals of all backgrounds and she continuously champions mentorship and sponsorship for diverse professionals, providing them with unparalleled opportunities to break into these male dominated industries. She highlights the importance of diverse pathways into the industry, emphasizing the critical role of passion, a growth mindset and commitment to lifelong learning, and a good network of colleagues as recipes for growth. For instance, at Turner & Townsend, young professionals interested in joining our business have the choice to join either the graduate programme or the degree apprenticeship programme, with both entry routes providing similar opportunities for anyone to thrive in their career.
More Than Just a Director
“Whilst others may start their day with coffee, I usually start my day by wearing my bold colourful earrings which is part of my personal brand” – IJ Samuel
In addition to her professional achievements, IJ is an absolute fashionista. Known for her bold fashion choices, characterized by elaborate earrings and colourful outfits, she strategically conveys her unique identity and energy, and always brightens up every room she walks into. As a mother of two children, she recognises the art of juggling responsibilities to achieve some sort of balance with her career and family life. When not at work or mentoring others or attending to familial responsibilities, she eagerly explores diverse cultures through her love for travelling.
Key Take Away
“As long as you remain passionate and have a growth mindset, you will thrive in your career. There will be challenges along the way, and you may fail at some point but just remain focused and always remember your ‘why?’.”– IJ Samuel
In her closing words, IJ leaves an indelible impression with her inspiring message: "Sustained passion and strategic focus are the pillars of growth. Challenges may arise, and setbacks are inevitable, but staying strategically aligned with your 'why' and surrounding yourselves with good people will lead to success." Her journey serves as a testament to Inclusive leadership, underscoring the importance of vision, diversity, and unwavering commitment in achieving inclusion, making her an influential force in the construction industry and beyond. The partnership with BPIC network further supports T&T’s vision to become a truly authentic, diverse and inclusive organisation.