Finally, I tracked down one of our new(er) members of staff for a Q&A session. Zhihong Wong has recently joined the Department as a Senior Lecturer in Quantity Surveying. He previously worked at Balfour Beatty as a Quantity Surveyor and is now located in room AB109. Here we go:
When you were at school what did you want to be when you grew up?
A school teacher - that’s what I wanted to do when I was in primary school. At that time I was living in a small town where life is simple and I was easily contented with a lot of outdoor activities.
What did you study at university or college?
I followed my mother’s career – a builder. It may be hard to believe that a women like her worked as a bricklayer and became a builder for house extensions and renovation projects in my home town. In order for me to move on I decided to do a diploma in Building Technology. But then I left my parent’s business to work in bigger construction firms before taking a masters degree in construction project management and a PhD in construction management (PhD title: A Discriminant Model for Classifying Contractor Performance on Public Works Projects) in the UK.
How did you find your way into construction management?
Through the influence of my parents and friends in my country. I used to work in major contractor firms in Malaysia, Singapore and also in the UK. My roles and responsibilities could be quite challenging due to the project needs, requirements and sizes - from a site engineer, quantity surveyor, site manager and project manager for small extension and renovation projects.
What interests you most about the subject?
After many years of working in the construction industry I find the industry still lags behind other sectors in terms of training and education for up-skilling construction labour and practitioners. This is the topic I find very interesting.
What is your favourite building and why?
I remember my grandmother’s wooden house which was built next to a river bank. After being flooded many times it is still intact without any major damage. A simply designed wooden house does not require air-conditioning and complicated mechanical and electrical services and is reasonably cool during the day and warm at night. As long as you can learn to enjoy the 'thrumming' insect orchestra and the rooster's wake-up call at 5.30am!
What is going to be the next big thing in construction?
Sustainability is a big issue in construction. But these issues can’t be dealt with successfully without changing our current working mindset and living style. It needs a lot of courage and a fundamental change.
Outside of work, how do you relax?
Music and a silent retreat for few days. I hope I can carry on my Taiji practice after moving down to England.
What is your favourite word?
Mettā – an ancient Pali word.