Working in Westminster: a network of stakeholders, heritage, and Big Ben
Charlotte Claughton on what it’s like to work on the refurbishment of one of the world’s most iconic buildings: the Houses of Parliament
Photo credit: Mark Duffy
What is a typical day in your job?
Before coronavirus changed how we work, a usual day would involve arriving into Westminster around 8am. The project team always beat me to our office, which is located on the Northern Estate of Parliament. The team administrating the refurbishment of Elizabeth Tower is primarily formed of architects, cost consultants, building services and structural engineers, and project managers.
No two days are ever the same. One morning I can be drafting reports, followed by an afternoon spent on the scaffolding with our skilled contractors, presenting papers to the Commons Finance Committee, coordinating access for ceremonial events with the Keeper of the Great Clock, scrutinising change requests or hosting knowledge sharing workshops. The life of a senior project leader is never quiet, nor dull!
Does working in Parliament require any specific skill sets or training?
I initially studied architecture and stumbled into project management completely by accident. However, as client-side project managers, my colleagues in the project delivery team have broad and varied backgrounds from mining engineers to quantity surveyors, systems specialists and building surveyors. Some are newly qualified; others have years of experience. The thing that unites us is an appreciation of our roles as custodians of the Palace of Westminster and its incredible heritage.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your work?
Parliament has a vast and complex network of stakeholders, each with their own unique and occasionally conflicting needs. Balancing these can be a challenge. But it’s all worth it, because I get to work on one of the most iconic buildings in the world. What better job could there possibly be? I’m surrounded by an incredible team, who are as proud as I am. Over the next few months, we’ll be removing more of the scaffolding and I cannot wait for everyone to see Big Ben again.
Charlotte Claughton is senior project leader, project delivery, In-House Services and Estates at UK Parliament