Lydia Boxer

Introducing Lydia

Lydia Boxer

Lydia has been working for the council since the summer of 2021. She now supports the Meridian Water Strategic Infrastructure team which serves as the foundation for unlocking more and better homes to Edmonton, one of London’s largest regeneration projects. Day to day duties include project delivery, contract management, budget monitoring, governance reporting, supporting Meridian Water’s social value commitment and risk management with the aim of delivering quality regeneration outcomes. In this interview, she talks about what inspired her to get into project management, how she manages her workday, and what advice she would give to aspiring project managers.

What inspired you to get into your job?

I grew up in Enfield and have always lived here. During lockdown I found a new appreciation for my community, local shops and public realm, taking advantage of what Enfield’s open spaces had to offer. I have also been a part of a netball club based in Enfield for over 20 years which means spending a lot of time at Broomfield Park - thank you Enfield Council for the new and improved courts!. Based on this growing interest towards my local community, I decided during the pandemic to make the jump from private to public sector. Since working for the council, I now can appreciate how much work goes into improving the borough, to make the borough better and safer for us residents.

I started my first role in the council as PA to Director of Property and Planning in May 2021, followed by a secondment position of Business Manager to the Executive Director of Place, September 2022. I have recently joined the Meridian Water team on another secondment opportunity. Having the opportunity to apply for secondments has helped with my personal development, given me great exposure to Enfield Council’s priorities and the ability to work with so many colleagues from different skill sets. Having that mentorship is helpful.

How does a typical workday morning start for you?

When I work from home, there is always a chance of not leaving the house all day and so I make a conscious effort to walk and run any errands (usually returning parcels or getting some milk!). The days I am at the Civic Centre normally begins with catching up with colleagues and "maybe" a croissant from the Coffee Cart!

I will go through emails, prioritising the urgent actions first. Since working with many subcontractors and operational staff who do not necessarily have office hours you tend to start the day filtering through the emails received in the evenings or early mornings. We have daily check-ins with the Project Management consultants and Contractors for project updates, an opportunity to highlight any issues, and strategise mitigation plans to avoid slippage to the programme, to ensure the project is on track.

What advice would you have liked to have had about your profession if you were just starting out now?

One thing that I wish I had known, and I think many people feel the same, is the fear of wanting to know everything immediately in the first few weeks and not allowing time to just absorb the information which can get overwhelming, so I would have relaxed more. It is fine to not be an expert right away.

What is the highlight of your role so far and what is has been your biggest learn to date?

As I have only been on post for a few months, being promoted to my current position has been the highlight so far. It is a big step up for me and I am really enjoying the challenge and learning it offers. I joined the team right before the beginning of the construction phase. It's exciting that I get to witness the start of this huge transformation.

The most important thing I have learned so far is having the right attitude in work, it helps you to work well with others. You are more open to change. You cope better with uncertainty. I think having a positive outlook is also important.

Having a good understanding that grant funding is often the driving factor for Local Authorities, being conscious of the funding opportunities and difficulties, creates the bigger picture that best serves the residents and improving their communities.

What are your future professional aspirations?

My future career goals are to explore more of the project management world. I find it very enjoyable, and it has shown me an industry that I did not think I could enter. Going forward, I would like to obtain some certifications. Something that will continue to support my growth. I am grateful to work with colleagues of all walks of life with many different disciplines of experience.