How are global students welcomed in the United Arab Emirates?
Twelve students and faculty members from Columbia University’s elite research group, Global Leaders in Construction Management, visited AECOM in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) during January to learn about the country’s construction management practices.
Several senior employees taught students about the current market and future trends in the regional construction industry. AECOM’s sponsor in Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Otaiba Al Otaiba, and the U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Director, John Simmons, also gave valuable insights into how the U.A.E. construction market fits into the global picture.
As the U.A.E. Professional Development Program (PDP) manager, I shared the opportunities AECOM has made available to our graduates to ensure they learn from practicing technical leads and develop their professional networks. The program was well received, and I was delighted to join the group for dinner to answer questions about it.
With over 80 graduates in our two-year program, we are dedicated to providing a supportive environment for professional growth as well as accelerating their development into industry leaders of tomorrow. The PDP is intended to provide a bridge between university and the challenges of a professional career by offering three main areas of learning. These include learning and development, where graduates complete technical competencies such as leadership, excellence and innovation; mentoring, which equips participants with the tools and resources for a successful career at AECOM; and networking, where graduates visit project sites throughout the U.A.E., and attend internal and external events.
I am pleased to say that the students were keen to understand more about our program over dinner. I answered their questions about the mentoring program — what it is like to work in the U.A.E. and whether it is beneficial for a fresh graduate to work abroad straight from university. My answer was a resounding, “Yes!” With the range of large-scale projects we deliver in the U.A.E. such as the District Mall, Etihad Rail and various theme parks, it’s a great opportunity for graduates to get exposure to working on projects they may not have the opportunity to work on in their home countries.
One of our success stories is Rami Al Otaibi, who joined AECOM as a graduate architect working in the Abu Dhabi office in October 2012. When explaining his experience, he said, “I was fully immersed into projects by the team leaders, who expected me to respond with feasible and practical solutions. I found this approach very eye-opening, verging on overwhelming on occasion. However, the support of my mentor and everyone else on the team always got me through.
“The team in AECOM is just as supportive of my career development as they are my personal development as a well-rounded architect and employee. I have had support on multiple occasions, including when I travelled to Brazil to build houses in the slums of Sao-Paolo. AECOM also celebrated my achievement of being ranked amongst the top 25 architect graduates globally.”
Vicky Mabbott (Victoria.Mabbott@aecom.com) joined AECOM in Abu Dhabi in January 2008, and has been working with the learning + development team for the past year — coordinating training for 1,800 employees across the U.A.E. as well as organizing and managing the graduate program. She’s currently preparing to attend career fairs around the U.A.E. such as with New York University in Abu Dhabi, to prepare for AECOM’s fiscal year 2016 graduate intake, and she’s really looking forward to it.