Laurence strives to make a positive difference through sustainable construction

From Bachelor of Environments to a Master of Construction Management (including a working gap year), Laurence is now working full time in the industry.

Laurence Ritchie

What did you study as a student at the University of Melbourne?
I followed the complete “Melbourne Model” to get to where I am today. I completed the Bachelor of Environments (Construction) between 2013 and 2015, worked for a tier one contractor in 2016, and came back to the MSD to complete the Master of Construction Management program full time.

I think my undergraduate and work experiences have really helped me in my understanding of the content in my course, and have generally made the graduate program easier than it would have been otherwise.

What was your favourite subject in the Master of Construction Management program? 
My favourite subject was definitely the subject in which I wrote my thesis – Research Practicum in Construction. This subject gave me the opportunity to explore a subject I was interested in that wasn’t necessarily discussed in university classes, and ultimately led me to pursue a career in a specific sector of the construction industry. With the unwavering support of my supervisor within the MSD I learnt more about my selected topic, academic writing, and even myself, setting me up well for future engagement in this area of the industry.

What are the most valuable skills that you learnt in your time at the Melbourne School of Design? 
My experience at the university – both academic and social – has taught me so much. In an academic sense I think the most valuable skills I have learnt involve efficient researching and academic writing. While not a standard skill that one may seek, this has been really helpful in and outside of university. In a social context I think my experience leading a student organisation taught me a lot of skills I now use every day – from leadership, to organisation, to team work.

Where are you working at the moment?
I currently work as a cost and program advisor as part of the Mid-rise Advisory Program at WoodSolutions. My job sees me work closely with project teams throughout the development process of timber projects, supporting the quantity surveyor, project manager, and builder wherever needed. In the coming months I intend to develop my career in this space, whether that means working with a developer, a builder, or a supplier in the industry.

I suppose it may be of interest that I actually secured my current job through a lecture! Now over 18 months into my career in the timber construction industry I think it is safe to say that the impact of the University will be with me throughout my career.

What trends do you see being important to the future of our built environments? What do you hope built environment professionals will achieve? 
I see a number of significant trends emerging in the industry, although interestingly these are really all linked to the concepts of sustainability and productivity. We are currently seeing exponential growth in mass timber construction for mid-rise buildings, producing buildings that often sequester more carbon than is emitted during their construction. The other major trend I see is the development of construction technologies such as block chain supply chain verification, sensors supported by the internet of things, augmented reality, and more. These technologies are quickly becoming more affordable, faster, and more intuitive to understand and use – I think it will only be a matter of time before they are mainstream in our industry.

I hope future built professionals will be able to provide high quality, sustainable, and affordable housing and workspaces for future populations. I would like to see our cities grow upwards rather than outwards, and support a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle than that currently enjoyed by the population of the developed world.

What advice do you have for other students thinking of studying at the Melbourne School of Design?
I cannot recommend the school highly enough. In my time here I have had some incredible experiences and met some amazing people, I have learnt how to work both harder and smarter, and believe I have gained practical skills that will stay with me forever. If considering Melbourne I would recommend coming to the next open day and seeing the possibilities for yourself!

How important is it for you to graduate with a degree from a world standard university? 
I think it is quite important to complete your graduate studies at a high calibre university. As I have experienced at Melbourne, the high standards of these universities push the student to produce better work while supplying the resources and facilities to do so. Beyond this, I think graduation from a well-respected university will aid future endeavours, whether academic or work based. For example, my degree at Melbourne may help me if ever applying for a PhD, whether in Australia or overseas.

What would you like people to know about construction management? 
A construction manager needs to have a good understanding of a wide range of different topics to succeed in their role. While it is vital that they understand the construction processes occurring on site, they must also have a sounds understanding of fields such as accounting, law, architecture, and engineering, not to mention softer skills such as leadership, empathy, and communication.

What was your favourite place on campus?
For studying I really liked to sit upstairs in the Baldwin Spencer building. The space is filled with natural light and fresh air during the day, something I have always found this to really support focused and efficient work. When socialising there’s nowhere better than under a tree on South Lawn.