Sarah Popoola

Trainee Design Manager

Currently studying

Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture

My role day to day

I work in the design team as a Trainee Design Manager. This involves meeting the clients, design managers, architects, planners, engineers and project managers. I work with our in-house design team to design and create computer models of various building projects, which are then presented to the client to make sure that they fully understand the construction stages and the completed buildings. I also produce technical drawings which are used to build the project on site. Every project is different, so there’s a new challenge every day.

I have been working alongside a senior Design Manager, attending design team meetings with the clients, design managers, project architects, planners and engineers, and drafting and issuing notes. I also assist the team in preparing pre-qualification questionnaires and tender documents in order to win new work for the company.

I am currently working with a drainage engineer and the CAD technicians at a prison in Norfolk looking at drawings and setting out the proposed site drainage. I also have the role of information controller for all drawings. This involves coordinating the architect’s, engineer’s and drainage engineer’s drawings to ensure they are logged correctly, allowing me to inform the design team when a drawing needs to be revised.

I also helped finalise the tender for a new academy school in London with a project value of about £25m. I was responsible for preparing a sample room of the fixtures, fittings and equipment (FF&E) to present to the client. It was essential to give the client a clear view of the spatial experience and how the FF&E would be completed. This was a key part of the final proposals for the project to obtain the client’s sign-off, enabling the project to go ahead.

Recent projects

Apartments, a prison, a new academy school (see above).

What I like about my job

The pleasure I get out of my job really comes down to meeting targets and impressing the clients with the breadth of work that is produced. In addition, I enjoy working for a great company with genuine values.

I like the diversity involved within the construction industry. Every building project is different, which puts forth new challenges and I am always learning something new everyday.

What attracted me to the Construction industry

I was always interested in the design of buildings and how they are constructed. I didn’t know that there was such a role as design manager until I learnt more about construction. At that point, I realised that there were many more opportunities within construction than just site work.

My Top Tip

  • Keep up to date with the industry by reading more about construction and architecture through journals and trade press etc.
  • Try to arrange a visit to a construction fair where you’ll be able to talk to representatives from a wide range of areas and see what matches your particular interests. You’ll also pick up advice on how to advance your career ambitions.
  • Work experience can lead to real jobs so look for some!

Sarah Popoola

Educational background

  • A-Levels: Design Technology, Art and Design and Media Studies
  • Degree in Architecture


I really need to understand the product we’re proposing in order to present it confidently to clients, as well as our company’s experience and values. In addition to good communication and organisational skills, I need to show creativity and the ability to think outside the box.