Josh Chana, Project Manager – Minor Works, Estates

“Our team works on a wide variety of projects for the College, from constructing new buildings at White City to renovating existing spaces at South Kensington.” 

Before joining Imperial in 2019, I was a sponsored undergraduate student, working for international property and construction company Lendlease while studying towards my undergraduate degree. However, upon moving to Imperial after my second year, I transferred to the University College of Estate Management (UCEM) to study my Construction Project Management degree part-time while working.  

I work as a Project Manager in the Projects Delivery team in the Estates Division. Our team works on a wide variety of projects for the College, from constructing new buildings at White City to renovating existing spaces at South Kensington. My role is focused on the management of some of our smaller projects, with values up to £1m. I work with clients and stakeholders from across Imperial to ensure that projects get completed on time, on budget and that they provide lasting value to Imperial. Some of my current projects include RFID upgrade works for Library Services, access control upgrade works for Residential Services, and fire prevention works for the Fire Office.  

Adapting to a purely virtual workload was difficult to begin with, but once we adapted our processes to deliver projects remotely it got a lot easier. The more projects we deliver virtually, the more we streamline the processes and implementation to improve projects in the future.  

But the toughest thing has been to adapt to not spending time with friends and colleagues. That quick 5minute catch-up between meetings or a nice conversation over a coffee is what I miss most, and though technology has been brilliant in allowing us to continue working during the pandemic, I am looking forward to getting those moments back. 

Alongside working at Imperial and studying at UCEM, I have a voluntary role with The Movember Foundation as a Community Ambassador which I am very passionate about. Movember is a charity trying to change the face of men’s health by raising funds and awareness for causes such as mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. My role with Movember involves getting people talking about men’s health – whether through hosting (virtual) events or talking to the media. 

Movember offers good advice to help us reach out to friends and family and start conversations. The first of those is the acronym ALEC, standing for Ask, Listen, Encourage Action, and Check-inThis simple tool has helped me start chatting to friends when they’ve been going through a rough patch and has helped them do the same with me! Another great tool is called ‘Movember Conversations’, which helps us practice these conversations with friends or family who may be struggling. 

Staying connected during COVID-19 is different from the world we were used to – the pandemic has blurred the lines of work and home, piling pressure on our mental health. It’s so important to stay in touch with our loved ones and to have regular honest conversations about how we’re doing.  

Although working from home has been difficult, it has also been a blessing too. I’m relishing the extra time that I have in my days from not commuting and I am not missing the two hours I’d spend sitting on the District line! I’ve spent this time looking after myself by cooking and exercising more (I’m a big fan of running now and working towards a half-marathon), as well as weekly movie nights with my family and virtually with my fiancée.

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