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One to watch: Helen Arbuthnot MCIOB

30 May 2017

Helen Arbuthnot has coxed all over the world in the Irish national boat and is now coaxing the best out of her team at Canary Wharf.

Newly chartered member Helen Arbuthnot may very well be the Institute’s first Olympian. The Canary Wharf Contractors project manager, who gained chartered status last month, coxed the Irish mixed four boat in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. And although missing out on a medal then, she has a World Cup bronze medal from the same year and has coxed for Ireland in competitions all over the world.

Fully able-bodied herself, Arbuthnot got into rowing in 2004 following an athletics injury when studying architecture at Kingston University. Sporty and very competitive by nature, she progressed quickly. While taking her master’s at Oxford Brookes, one of the country’s top architectural schools, she began training with the British Olympic team preparing for the 2012 Games.

“I was born in Dorset but because my father’s Irish, the coach suggested I contact Rowing Ireland,” she explains. “I was offered a trial and was selected for the World Championships in New Zealand in 2010, where we came fifth.”

It was a world ranking she and her Irish boat held for the next two years. She has many wonderful memories, particularly of London 2012. “Ireland had a very good Games and it was fantastic to be in the Village.”

While rowing internationally, Arbuthnot was also pursuing a successful career as an architect. She joined Canary Wharf Contractors in February 2013, working as a project manager on retail and commercial office fit-outs as well as Canary Wharf Crossrail station. She’s really enjoying her time in London, working on iconic projects. “It’s a great company to work for.”

A CIOB member for two and a half years, she is looking forward to receiving her charter certificate at the October ceremony. The satisfaction is probably all the greater as she is dyslexic – though she says that it’s never been a barrier and all the companies she’s worked for have been very supportive.

“I’ve not been an exam-friendly person and it’s taken a little bit longer to get to where I am.”

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