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Mott MacDonald

Mott MacDonald

Helping my employer respond to the pandemic: my consulting career at Mott MacDonald

From working with local authorities to helping her company respond to Covid-19, Zoe has been able to work on projects she really cares about.
Zoe Duvall, a management consultant at Mott MacDonald, explains how she got her graduate job
Zoe Duvall
Job title: 
Management consultant

2014–2017 Completed a BSc in business management at the University of Nottingham.

2016 Took part in a study abroad scheme with the University of Nottingham, spending a term in China.

2016 Undertook a digital marketing internship at Encore Tickets Limited.

2016–2017 Was an active member of sustainability student societies and took part in a sustainability business challenge.

2017 Worked as a credit risk analyst at LeasePlan UK as part of a gap year.

2018 Joined Mott MacDonald.

You learn so much by just giving something a go.

When I was working in my gap year to earn money to travel, I spoke to a colleague about careers. She told me about Mott MacDonald and it was eye-opening. Before then I hadn’t considered finding a company that aligned with my values and what I wanted from a career. I knew from my time at university I wanted to do something with sustainability, but it was difficult finding a role that didn’t require environmental science. From that conversation with my colleague, I realised that I could still pursue my interest in sustainability by working for a company that cared about it, rather than it being my job through and through.

Added values

I didn’t know about management consulting in great detail before reading the Mott MacDonald website, but I saw that the role offered me variety and the opportunity to build relationships with people to solve problems.

I applied just before I went travelling and was interviewed when I returned. I put my heart and soul into my application, showing how we shared the same values. I was grateful that my careers service reviewed my application, which gave me the confidence that I was on the right track. I hadn’t engaged with them at all until that point, but I was visiting friends and found that they offered support to recent graduates.

During my interview, I spoke about the term I spent in China where I experienced how many different businesses operate, which gave me a global perspective on markets. I’d applied for a specific role in education, health and social care and I didn’t need prior knowledge in these areas – but I found that it helped to read around them and Mott MacDonald projects that interested me. You don’t need to learn and remember the entire website to impress; it’s better to show genuine passion about what you’d be working on.

Normal and the new normal

My usual day job is to work with public sector clients on projects related to education, health or social care, including working with government departments such as the Department for Education.

My role on projects has included working closely with local authorities to embed local approaches to an innovative national programme. Pre-coronavirus, one day I could be hosting a workshop with local authorities, the next I could be collaborating with colleagues in the office or writing a report. I’ve really valued the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and collaborate with people from across the business.

I’m talking to the UK 300 during the UK coronavirus lockdown and I’ve been redeployed to project manage my employer’s Covid-19 response team for Europe and North Africa. It’s involved responding to government advice and enabling colleagues to continue producing great work securely and safely from home. It’s certainly the project I’ve learned the most on – and that’s saying a lot!

Building a profile

There is a huge variety of training available at Mott MacDonald – for example, as well as undertaking a professional qualification in management consultancy, I’ve taken part in a women in leadership training course. I’ve learned much from colleagues too, especially when travelling with my team and even just from working next to senior managers in the office.

One of the most inspiring ways for us to learn is by connecting with colleagues through our global practices, which share knowledge and good practice across the business. I was asked to represent my sector as an early careers champion in our social responsibility practice, which has been a brilliant way to cross-collaborate and learn from inspiring people across the globe. It has also raised my profile because I’m now mixing with people I wouldn’t necessarily have met otherwise.

Building a network is something that can be quite daunting, but I found it happened naturally for me by being interested in what other people do across the business and saying ‘yes’ to things outside of my comfort zone. You learn so much by just giving something a go and so I’m open to whatever comes next in my career; after all, I never thought I’d be helping the business respond to a pandemic.

This content first appeared in the UK 300, a product developed and created by the editors at TARGETjobs.