Working at Linkcity: Q&A with Anika Winkler

February 24th 2021

One of the best things about Linkcity is our people. To celebrate this, we have launched a series of Q&As to showcase our diverse, talented team and the variety of roles available here. Last time we spoke to Manon Smits. Next up is Operations Manager, Anika Winkler.

Tell us a bit about you and your role.

I am an Operations Manager for Linkcity and have been with the company for nearly 6 years. I have lived in the UK for almost 9 years, having previously worked as an architect in Munich, my hometown, and in Japan. I help to prepare projects for the delivery phase and act as ‘client’ for schemes under construction. I also deal with post completion matters such as snagging and defects rectification. I am currently working on the delivery of the third phase of our flagship development, Hallsville Quarter in the London Borough of Newham, which consist of 620 mixed tenure homes, including 50 extra care homes – the first in the Borough – as well as 11,000 sqm of retail, leisure, workspace and a NHS health centre over a 51 months construction programme. I am also a member of the Linkcity CSR committee where we engage with local communities of the boroughs we work in, or with our charity of the year, in order to create social value above our contractual obligations.

What do you do in your day to day?

As the face of Linkcity on the scheme I ensure that we fulfil our role as property developer and as Employer under the build contract. I safeguard delivery compliance with our investor and funding agreements and make sure that quality, margin and contingency are protected. I lead the main series of meetings with the contractor, our investors and their technical representatives and manage contractual compliance with the Employer’s Requirements often with specialist consultant support. I also address any contentious matters and disputes that arise and collaborate with our partners to solve problems on unforeseen issues.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

No problem is ever the same. There is always something new to deal with and you need to adapt to each challenge. Great project managers can anticipate where future problems arise and being proactive (rather than purely reactive) is key. Phase 3 is a first not just for me, but also for our construction company in terms of quantum and complexity of a residential-led development. There are multiple things that you are working on at the same time and they are usually very different from each other, but they are all interlinked. So, you need to understand these relationships and what they could mean for the project. Phase 3 also comes with a sizeable team and you have to make sure to stick to your processes and communication lines in order to stay on top of things.

What are you most proud of since starting out at Linkcity?

I come from an architectural background with no previous project management experience. When I first arrived at Linkcity, my job was to assist the project manager on Phase 2 of the Hallsville Quarter Development. I am most proud that after the completion of my first job I was given my own project at Pontoon Dock and following the successful handover to our Build to Rent partner Grainger, I am now leading the day to day management of our largest scheme. The fact this includes repeat business with Grainger is really satisfying.

What is a common misconception about your role?

Some people think I manage the construction on site, and I need to explain that I am not actually on site and in a hard hat and PPE all the time. Whilst it is great to be on site often as part of my job (I particularly enjoy that special construction site buzz), most of my time is actually spent in head office, either on the phone to a consultant or the contractor and reviewing contracts and specifications.

How did 2020 challenge you/affect your role?

I used to get up at 5 am and head to the gym for a workout before starting my working day. Now, I work out in the lounge which requires a lot more self-discipline! Having invested some of my usual commute time into researching and cooking authentic Bavarian cuisine hasn’t exactly helped. Also, like most people, I was not able to fly home and see family in Germany (fingers crossed for Easter).

In terms of work, the construction of Hallsville Quarter Phase 3 started right in the middle of the pandemic and the whole project team from the contractor, to the investors and multiple technical consultants had to get to know each other virtually, build relationships and become a team over videocalls. I still haven’t met some people in person, but I am happy that we are working successfully in this new environment and under the circumstances.

What is your biggest takeaway from 2020?

We are incredibly resilient and adaptable. I don’t think many people would have thought that a development business like Linkcity – with its USP being the partnership model – would be able to run successfully with its employees at home. But it is working and running very smoothly in fact. We have completely adapted to working remotely and safely while also succeeding in securing new projects. Meetings are now organised over Microsoft Teams. Linkcity and our contractor Bouygues UK have made tremendous efforts in a very short period of time to create a COVID secure head office and site.

What do you like most about working at Linkcity?

It has to be the people. Our Chair, Fabienne Viala, often mentions that the people at Linkcity and our sister company Bouygues UK are at the heart of the business and I think you can feel that. It is an inclusive and meritocratic culture and there is a genuine interest in your opinion. There is also a great emphasis on the importance of looking after your wellbeing and mental health.

Where do you see yourself and the business this time next year?

Hopefully I’ll be back at the gym and have spent some time abroad! In terms of work, my current project has a long construction programme, so not too much will have changed for me, I will still be working on delivering Phase 3. However, I hope I would have minimised the risks of some of the items that come with such a large and complex scheme and would have fed back some lessons learned from remote working and the construction into schemes that are currently being developed. In terms of development, I think we will look more closely at residential design in order to get more out of our new homes, with home working becoming more prevalent. I am confident that Linkcity will still be consistently winning more projects over the years to come.

Category: Community news, Corporate news, Development news