Meet Tara, a former FLUID mentee who is now a mentor

About Tara

Having previously worked for Mace Group, and as an Associate at RG+P Architects where she was responsible for winning work, developing clients, and growing the size of the practice, Tara now runs her own architectural practice in London, Gbolade Design Studio (GDS).


Why did you get involved in the Fluid Programme?

I initially joined the Fluid programme as a mentee to get a feel and understanding of how the programme worked.

After successfully being introduced to and paired with a brilliant mentor, Anna Wilson, who assisted me in taking the necessary actions to developing my career, I was convinced it was an experience other people should have access to, and I wanted to play a part of assisting that process.

Following my experience of getting inside access to a leader in her field further along in the profession that I was passionate about, and who I could contact regularly to bounce ideas off, I felt it was my responsibility to try and empower other people the way I had been empowered.

As a result, I applied to become a mentor and was paired with  Silvia, an ambitious and hardworking mentee.

My role is to encourage and challenge mentees to take the necessary steps in fulfilling their desires for their careers, taking responsibility for their own growth in an industry where even the best professionals can often become jaded by if guidance is not available.


How has the Fluid Programme impacted on you?

This programme has allowed me to develop my leadership skills. By meeting regularly with my mentee, I have often used this time to draw out of her what she already has an inkling of, but not the necessary confidence or skill to pursue.

Through the Fluid programme, I believe I have become a more sympathetic leader in the workplace, providing more opportunities for informal conversations with my team, and encouraging team members on an individual basis.

Finally, the new group of professionals I have met through the Fluid programme has enriched my network and will provide an important resource for collaboration and mutual assistance in the future.


Why do you think others should get involved with the Fluid Programme?

I believe that participating in this programme provides a different perspective on the everyday requirements of project and practice management.
From a mentoring perspective, it offers the opportunity to understand the salient issues colleagues may be experiencing and encourages a mentor to address them in a non-threatening manner. This, in turn, instigates better team relationships, more committed staff, better quality production, and eventually contributes not only to a positive practice environment but a greater bottom line.

Meet Yemi – A FLUID Programme Mentor

Yemi Aladerun is an Associate at Barbara Weiss Architects, a medium sized architectural practice based in Westminster.

A newly elected member of the RIBA National Council and an Ambassador for the Architects Benevolent Society, she is committed to and passionate about Social Mobility, Education, Mentoring and generally helping others to achieve their dreams within the construction industry and beyond.

Yemi has been mentoring for the FLUID Mentoring Diversity Scheme for the past year, she is also a mentor for the Social Mobility Foundation and The Stephen Lawrence Trust under their Building Futures Programme.


Why did you get involved in the FLUID Programme

When I qualified as an architect in 2014, I wished I had a mentor to help me navigate through the professional world of architecture. Unfortunately, at that time, there were no easily accessible schemes to locate a mentor.  

Two years later, I contacted the FLUID team. By then, working as an associate, I was settled in my career and decided that, becoming a mentor would be the most useful option. As it became increasingly apparent to me that there was a real need for female mentors & BAME mentors in the construction industry, I also started mentoring for the Social Mobility Foundation.


How has the FLUID Programme impacted on you

Watching my mentee growing in confidence throughout the year has filled me with joy. She is hardworking and determined, all she lacked was confidence. However, by the end of our mentoring cycle, she was given a massive promotion!!  

Her most insightful feedback regarding the mentoring process was that she realised that her architectural experiences were not necessarily indicative of the overall reality of architecture. 


Why do you think others should get involved with the Fluid Programme

There is no downside to mentoring – it is a win-win situation for ALL parties – it is mutually beneficial.

By sharing your knowledge and experiences as a mentor, you can open up entirely new paths and dramatically influence the direction an individual will take in their career. 

One of the greatest gifts of value you can give someone is to light their imagination up, give them hope, and inspire the confidence to chase their dreams.

Six Tips for Being a Brilliant Mentee

Why mentoring

Mentoring strategies have grown in use in business and professional settings over the last few years and for a very good reason. The benefits of mentoring as a method of sharing knowledge and experience in a learner-led format are huge. I champion mentoring as it is a fantastic mix of support and continuing professional development which is beneficial for both sides of the partnership, developing key skills in communication, resilience, confidence, leadership and self-awareness.

The FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme, which is run by Built By Us, is now in its fifth year and is the longest-running pan-professional, inter-business career mentoring programme for built environment professionals. Designed to support career progression and develop leadership skills among underrepresented practitioners, FLUID has inspired renewed interest in mentoring in construction and helped individuals to realise their goals –  from increasing the value they add to their organisations, developing as leaders and assisting them in starting their own enterprises.

Join Built By Us

Six Tips

So how as a mentee can you get the best from the mentoring experience?  Here are 6 tips:

  1. Expect to work hard – as a mentee you are the engine of your partnership and your mentor is more like the steering wheel. This means it is your energy, effort and input that takes the partnership forward. While it may be tempting to take a back seat and hope that your mentor will lead, this strategy can backfire, taking many a partnership off track. As a mentee don’t be afraid to take the initiative with your mentor. Don’t wait or expect to be led, take ownership and initiate communication, ask questions and share your thoughts.
  2. Expect support, not miracles. Your mentor is not there to solve all of your problems for you. The value that a mentor brings is to provide a new perspective, the benefit of their experience and to act as a sounding board. They may also be able to help identify other individuals, resources or networks for assistance.
  3. Be teachable – actively listen and be open to learning new things.  Hearing and responding to constructive feedback is an important part of the process along with reflecting on your conversations.
  4. Respect your mentor’s time – Take a look at your calendar right now – chances are that your diary is pretty full and it is the same for your mentor too! If you know that you have periods in the future where you are going to be swamped or offline, let your mentor know. By the same token make sure that you are not overburdening your mentor with emails, for example, several emails a day or week (unless this had been initiated). Book appointments for discussions,
  5. Focus on building a relationship – Building a relationship takes time and the quickest way to damage it is through lack of patience. You’ve met that person and within a short space of time, he or she starts asking for stuff! Annoying isn’t it? It is important to devote the majority of your time to building a rapport with your mentoring partner; take the time to get to know them, communicate clearly and correct any misunderstandings.
  6. Follow up – If you decide to take action on an issue raised in your mentoring session, let your mentor know. Feedback is important for your mentor too and it is encouraging when both you and your mentor can share your progress.


For more information on opportunities to become involved in mentoring within the built environment visit the Built By Us website.

Or follow us on Twitter & @fluidmentoring

#mentoring #leadership #diversity #construction

FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme 2017-18 Takes Off!



Image courtesy of Rachel Cherry


The 2017-18 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme, now in its fifth year, got off to a strong start at its recent launch at the RIBA in London, with many new and returning mentors and prospective mentee candidates wanting to hear about the experiences of past participants on both sides of the mentoring programme.

FLUID is a scheme to address retention and development of talented practitioners in the built environment which first began, back in 2012. The programme is designed to support built environment practitioners from diverse backgrounds over a period of 12 months and runs on a one-to-one developmental model with volunteer mentors and mentee applicants, recruited and paired from across all levels and all professional disciplines. It particularly seeks to support and encourage those under-represented in the professional and managerial disciplines including women, BME and LGBT practitioners, and professionals with disabilities and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.



Katy Ghahremani of Make – Image courtesy of Rachel Cherry 


Katy Ghahremani, co-chair of Architects for Change (AfC) and Director at Make Architects, in her Keynote Address reported on data gathered by AfC and applauded the improvement in the number of women entering the profession at degree level, which has risen from 34% to 50%. However, she went on to highlight the need for on-going support to prevent drop-off, as well as the lack of change in qualification at Part 3 which remained static at 11% for women.

Ms Ghahremani called on members of the construction industry to go into schools and provide careers advisors with information on the enormous array of opportunities that the industry has to offer, whilst also highlighting that the predisposition to provide work and summer placements for family members or friends was not helpful in creating a diverse workplace. She concluded her address by saying “It is a privilege to be involved with FLUID at a time when so many industries are looking to become more transparent, more diverse and more inclusive. FLUID aims to make a positive difference to the way we work in the built environment and it is proving to be a great way to break down the silos between the disciplines by providing each of the professions with an opportunity to talk to each other in a different space”.

This was followed by testimonials from FLUID participants: Yemi Aladerun, architect, quoted Bob Dylan – “the highest form of art is to inspire” – and she went on to express just what a positive experience the FLUID mentoring process has been for her, a view which was endorsed by Richard Brindley, consultant, who has been a mentor for two years, “I feel I gain much more than I give”. Sarah Shuttleworth who has worked as an architect in Africa, China and America said she has faced challenging situations and needed external support which she received from her older, non-architect mentor whom she described as “a perfect match”. This theme was picked up by Tara Gbolade, Associate at RG&P, who said a different perspective was “invaluable”.

Over five years the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme has assisted over 100 mentees from the UK and from places as far afield as New York, Hong Kong, Dubai and Australia.


Image courtesy of Rachel Cherry

Applications to be a FLUID mentee have now closed for 207-18 and the interview process which precedes the pairings of mentors with mentees is currently underway.

Danna Walker, Founder of Built By Us, the social enterprise which is facilitating the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme going forward said of the launch “This programme proves that we can all do something to improve diversity in our industry. I am delighted by the success of the FLUID programme over the last five years, none of which could have happened without the generosity of our mentors. It never fails to amaze me to see the calibre of the professionals who put themselves forward voluntarily to fill these roles and help those coming up the career ladder behind them. This is collaboration in its truest sense. I’d also like to thank our sponsors Make Architects and EPR Architects whose significant financial contribution together with that of Expedition Engineering have made it possible for the FLUID programme to continue to be inclusive and accessible. Sponsorship opportunities are available all year round and FLUID welcomes offers of support to the programme.”


About Make

Make is an award-winning international architectural practice with a reputation for challenging convention and pursuing design excellence. Since we opened our doors in 2004, we’ve worked on more than 1,300 projects worldwide covering a wide range of sectors. We’ve delivered 68 built schemes from studios across three continents, including 43 buildings, 18 interiors and refurbishments and seven smaller design projects. We’ve also achieved 95 planning consents and realised 11 masterplans. Our work is inspired by a singular purpose; to design the best buildings, places and spaces in the world.

Website:      Twitter: @makearchitects


About EPR Architects

EPR Architects is an award-winning architectural studio based in Central London and Poland. Our reputation as one of the UK’s leading practices reflects proven expertise in architecture, masterplanning, interior design and our commitment to design excellence. Our diverse team of over 200 talented people collaborate to produce vibrant and inventive architecture in response to our clients’ unique requirements, delivering an exciting portfolio of projects with professionalism from concept to delivery.

We are dedicated to nurturing the best talent and skills and do this by investing in people and the technical resources to support them. A number of EPR Architects’ staff have participated in FLUID over the years, benefitting from being mentees, mentors or both, with their experience inspiring our own in-house mentoring programme. We are delighted to be an official sponsor of FLUID; providing financial assistance and support to continue helping Danna and her team of dedicated volunteers maintain and grow the FLUID programme.

Website:          Twitter: @EPRArchitects


About Expedition Engineering

Expedition Engineering Ltd is an award-winning firm of structural and civil design engineers based in Central London. Since 1999, we have collaborated with clients, contractors and design teams on interesting and challenging projects and our work has been recognised through numerous awards.

Expedition is part of the Useful Simple Trust, an Employee Benefit Trust, which delivers work in the built environment, engineering design, architecture, sustainable development, sustainable communications and design education.

Our purpose is to blaze a trail in the integrated, intelligent and ethical provision of the human environment. Expedition looks for practical and appropriate ways to meet the complex needs of clients. We deliver useful, simple outcomes that are beautiful and good.

Website:   Twitter: @EXP_eng


Built By Us (BBU) is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Its vision is that by 2030 BBU will have played an active role in the creation of a diverse UK construction sector, which both reflects the society it serves and draws on the talents of a diverse workforce.

Website:     Twitter: @builtbyusUK


Join us for the FLUID launch event

Fluid-IMG_2751The FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme 2017-18 will launch with an event on Wednesday 27 September 2017, hosted by the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.  This scheme is designed to address the retention and development of talented & diverse practitioners in the built environment and first began, back in 2012.

Now in its fifth year, the programme operates UK wide and has included mentors from around the world. Previously under the aegis of Architects for Change, the FLUID programme will now be run by Built by Us, the not-for-profit social enterprise founded by architect, Danna Walker.

We are delighted to invite you to join us to celebrate the start of the 2017-18 programme RSVP to reserve your place at the launch and meet our alumni, learn how the programme works and how it has makes a positive impact on construction and the built environment.

The programme wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers and supporters. If you would like to become a mentor visit the programme page, or if your company would like to sponsor the programme contact Danna Walker for more information.


FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme 2017 Launch


Call for Volunteers and Volunteer Mentors


We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2017/18 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme! In a slight change from before, the FLUID programme will now be run by Built By Us, a new not-for-profit, from FLUID founder Danna Walker, with support from supporters Architects for Change, the RIBA, NAWIC and the Construction Industry Council.

Building on the success of previous years, we are hoping that 2017’s programme will be better than ever and we are inviting applications from volunteers to act as potential mentors from professional disciplines in construction and the built environment. That includes everyone from recent graduates to company Directors and Partners who would like to share their experiences and insights over a period of 12 months click here for the Fluid_Mentor Role Description

If you are interested in volunteering but you are unable to commit to 12 months you are invited to apply to become one of our programme team and help with interviewing and supporting our events, click here to find out about FLUID_Volunteer_Roles.

To find out more on how to apply visit the Programme page.

Further information on the launch event coming soon.

FLUID Programme Launch 2016

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2016 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme! Building on the success of previous years, we are hoping that 2016’s programme will be even better.

We are inviting applications from potential mentors and mentees from professional disciplines in the construction industry and from all career levels. From recent graduates to company Directors and Partners.

As with previous years we would particularly like to support and encourage applications from women, BME and LGBT practitioners, professionals with disabilities and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

If you are interested in learning more about the FLUID programme or would like to opportunity to meet some of FLUID’s alumni of wonderful mentors and mentees, please RSVP a place at our launch event at the RIBA on 24th May when we shall be sharing some of the stories from the class of 2015.


Event Agenda
6.30 Registration

7.00 Welcome and opening address
Danna Walker, Chair of Architects for Change

Virginia Newman, RIBA’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador

7.15 Being part of FLUID
Presentations from FLUID Alumni

7.30 Certificate presentation

7.45 Closing remarks followed by networking till 8.30pm


If you have any questions about this event email Danna Walker at

To find out more on how to apply visit the Programme page


Fluid Networking Event – Sharing your story

We are delighted to announce that the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme will be hosting a networking event from 18.00 on Thursday 10th March.

This event will be an opportunity for you to network with current mentors and mentees, alumni and those interested in participating in the future. We are thrilled that our colleagues at Trowers and Hamlins will be hosting the event at their offices on Bunhill Row, London.

The theme of this event will be “Sharing Your Story” and as part of this we are keen to capture your stories and experiences of the FLUID programme in short video clips.

The video clips will be used to promote the programme on the FLUID website and social media. If you would be happy to be part of these short recorded interviews we would be grateful if you could confirm via email to the many thanks.

For further information and to RSVP click on the following link:

Why Mentors Add Value to Your Business

by Danna Walker, Chair of Architects for Change

FLUID launched in 2012 with a mission to support the retention of construction professionals from diverse backgrounds and their career aspirations. This year’s programme has an amazing cohort of volunteer mentors working at every level of industry from a variety of disciplines encompassing between them hundreds of years of construction industry experience

As part of the recruitment process we ask the volunteers why they wish to dedicate their time to this programme The most common response is “to give something back”  and this desire was beautifully demonstrated at the Mentor Session held in October and attended by a mix of alumni and brand new recruits. Over the course of the evening with patience, generosity and a good splash of humour our mentors shared their perspectives both personal and professional; they made new connections and inspired each other for the journey ahead.

I believe that some incredibly valuable, but sometimes underrated skills, are developed in the role of mentor. This lack of recognition of the business benefits of mentors may explain why some of our volunteers have needed to make the case for joining the programme. Here are just 4 of the reasons why having mentors in your company is great for business:


Improved self awareness

Self-awareness is defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives and desires.”

In the context of a construction business this may not sound as important as technical skill but I believe that self awareness is a key ability, forming the foundation of exemplar leadership and management skills. For example a highly self aware team leader is better able to understand their own strengths and weaknesses and apply that understanding to others.

At its heart mentoring offers the perfect platform for the  in depth self reflection required to be an effective mentor and studies reveal that self awareness is a critical trait for successful leaders, enabling them to identify the complementary skills required of their colleagues and team members.


Enhanced coaching skills

According to research undertaken by the Chartered Institute of Personal Development, the use of coaching techniques as a line management tool has proven to be effective in:

  • Promoting learning within organisations
  • Transferring learning obtained on courses back to the workplace
  • Having a positive impact on a company’s bottom line

Perhaps one of the positive impacts of coaching management is the shift away from “command and control”, often seen in the construction industry, to a staff empowered and creative culture, where people do not need to wait to be told what to do or tell others what to do.


Developing as role models

Our programme evaluations have revealed how important role models are to our mentees. Often they seek out FLUID because they don’t see potential role models within their own organisations and networks.

The term role model can have a number of connotations from the infallible professional to the super hero. The truth is that we all have the potential to be a role model, good, bad or indifferent and we should embrace opportunities to be a positive one to others. Perfection is not a requirement but it is important to recognise that good role models inspire others to raise their professional performance.


Increased social capital

Social Capital is a term used to describe the links, shared values and understanding that enable individuals and groups to trust each other and work together. The central premise of social capital is that social networks add value.

Many of us understand the value of building relationships with others as a way of adding value to our professional lives. Those relationships may be with team members, stakeholders or clients for example. Building rapport is essential to creating trust in a mentoring relationship and key to building effective social capital.

Mentoring offers the opportunity to develop a number of skills for the mentee, but the impact on the mentor should not be underestimated. Mentoring has positive impact on the mentor which can cause a powerful ripple effect on their professional relationships and add value to the businesses they work in.

Danna Walker’s article for

Danna Walker was invited to write an article for the Womanthology website. Read her interview below or here.


Danna Walker is Project Manager for the Construction Industry Council, where she leads the FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme. This  innovative scheme wasdeveloped by the advisory group she Chairs, RIBA’s Architects for Change (AfC) and the Construction Industry Council.  Danna is an experienced project manager, qualified architect and electrician with over 20 years’ of experience in design and the built environment.

Danna Walker

The FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme was launched on 14th April at RIBA (The Royal Institute of British Architects) in London. The scheme is open for applications to become mentors and mentees until 31st May 2015.

A bit different and incredibly practical

I started in construction as an apprentice electrician – this was my first job after leaving school. I really wanted to go into a sector that was going to be quite exciting and very challenging.

I went to an all-girls school so joining the construction industry couldn’t have been more different than my schooling! At the time I was very interested in studying art, but I was discouraged by my careers adviser who felt the best I could hope for was a job in a bank, despite having expressed no interest in that area. I decided it would be best to get a trade and do something that was a bit different and incredibly practical.

Apprenticeship – earn and learn

For me taking up an apprenticeship was really about trying to find an opportunity to both earn and learn – something that would give me a good trade and a foundation that I could build on (no pun intended). So for me it was a very pragmatic decision.

So I started as an apprentice, qualified as an electrician and worked as an electrician for a couple of years, but that interest in art never really left me and it developed into an interest in design. So when the opportunity arose to move on from where I was working and get onto an architecture course, that’s exactly what I did.

Giving back and contributing to the build environment

It was important for me to maintain a connection with construction as I really enjoyed working in that area. For me, being an architect was an opportunity to continue to be practical and use my knowledge, but also to give back and contribute to the built environment.

It’s an incredibly varied area to study in because you’re looking at the built environment from so many different perspectives. It’s one of those areas where you’re thinking about lots of things at the same time – you’re thinking about people, about space, the environment as well as of design, technology and science.

Route to architecture

[To become an architect in the UK ] takes seven years typically as a minimum, which is made up of three years studying as an under graduate, a year in practice, followed by two years post graduate, and then another year in practice before completing the Part 3, which is a professional practice certificate.

Funding is a real challenge, although it’s an even bigger challenge now with the £9k fee as it currently stands . It can be an incredibly expensive course to study and it does concern me that some people will be put off by that in terms of studying architecture. Because it takes quite a long time and is relatively expensive I think there is a danger that we won’t get as many people from varied backgrounds deciding to follow that particular route.

Nine and a half to ten years to become an architect – it really whips by!

According to a study by the RIBA the average time is around nine and a half to ten years for most people [to become an architect]. I decided to take an extra year after I was doing my Part 1, so I was pretty close to the average length of time but I have to say, I felt that it went by incredibly quickly.

So I completed my training and worked for an architect before becoming interested in the strategic issues impacting  the industry as a whole. After getting involved with the skills development work in my practice, an opportunity came up to look at that on a broader platform, and that’s how I came to join the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme: How it works

FLUID Diversity

The Fluid programme’s development reflects my experience, having worked in industry, and the research conducted by organisations such as the RIBA, the CIC and others on diversity and the construction industry.

What seems to happen is that we have quite good levels of diversity at student level in architecture for example but the industry faces challenges in retaining people so we see quite a large dropout of people – retention is not just an issue within architecture, it’s right across construction.

A practical intervention into retention and progression

I felt that retention and progressions were therefore key issues we needed to tackle at Architects for Change with a practical intervention to support people in continuing their careers and also thinking about how they might progress.

The programme matches mentees one-to-one with someone who has the experience that the people on the programme are seeking to attain, to support their aspirations. We’ve been running the programme for three years now and it’s been very successful in terms out the outcomes and level of engagement we’ve had.

Since starting Fluid there are now more and more mentoring programmes that are coming to the fore and mentoring for the construction industry is growing which is  absolutely fantastic.

This is one of the key areas in terms of developing people as potential leaders that really needs to be utilised to the max.

Response from scheme participants

The response has been amazing. We evaluate how the scheme has gone and we ask people who have taken part not only about the scheme but the impact it’s had on their lives.

We were really delighted to see that over 80% felt that their confidence had increased and that 92% of the mentees felt that their leadership skills had been improved as well. We also heard from the mentors that around 84% felt their communication skills had developed.

So through the programme of mentoring we’re seeing skills development, we’re seeing an improvement in confidence, we’re seeing both the mentee and mentors  being able to have a positive impact and develop their own skills .

Participants setting the agenda about what they want to achieve

The programme asks the mentees to really lead their partnerships, because they set the agenda as to what they want to do and what they want to achieve. They do that, they get incredibly engaged with it and they direct the mentor to a certain extent in terms of what they want to get out of it.

We have a fantastic cohort of volunteers and I’m very pleased that many of them have been coming back each year to continue to mentor new people who are coming on to the programme.

Being a mentor and mentee: Give / get

People who have acted as mentees initially have come back and been mentors and they are fantastic mentors because they understand both sides of the process. We do offer people the opportunity to apply to be mentors and mentees at the same time, so we have a mentoring chain of people acting in both roles and that has worked incredibly well.

We formally monitor what’s going on with the pairing for a year, but we do encourage the mentors and mentees, should they wish, to continue after that. We don’t have to do much in terms of encouraging them. They contact us and say, “We really want to stay in touch. We’re now friends.”

Perhaps they say that the formal part has been useful but they’d like to move on from that and remain in contact informally, and this is all something that we’re really keen to do because we think building your network and your support is incredibly important to your career.

Broad range of backgrounds

The mentor intake in terms of gender is quite balanced. We go for quite a broad range of backgrounds in terms of the mentees and we encourage that on the mentor side as well.

Some of our female mentees have said to us, that they have found it really interesting to work with a male practitioner in a different context. Everyone has noted the benefit of working with  someone who is maybe not from the same background and certainly not from the same business that they’re in – someone who’s representing and area of interest for them and also a different way of thinking – they see that as part of the challenge and part of the learning opportunity.

Addressing broader diversity issues and leveraging collective knowledge of a broad range of people

FLUID Diversity

We wanted the programme to be as broad as possible, so I think it’s about leveraging the collective knowledge of a broad range of people and that broad range is partly about background.

It is partly about the disciplines people are in, the programme is pan professional so we might have project managers working with architects. We also want to make sure that other diversity strands are included, so we include sexual orientation, disability, race and ethnicity, as well as challenging socio-economic background in terms of the categories that we’re interested in hearing about people engaging.

Studies that we have looked at seem to suggest that for all of those groups, similar barriers and challenges are faced, so it made sense that this programme represents in some way what we’d like to see. I think the term ‘learning ecosystem’ is a fantastic phrase because that’s what it is about. It’s about lots of varied parts coming together, sharing knowledge, being stronger, and benefiting from that added value.

How Womanthology readers can get involved

They can spread the word. They can contact me at if they’re either interested in being a mentee or a mentor. We’d be really keen to support people, particularly those in construction, in developing their careers, so do get in touch!

Next for FLUID…

We’ve literally just launched this year’s scheme and we’ll be looking to have a larger number of participants in terms of the numbers of people that we’re supporting. I’m already looking at how we might continue to scale the programme next year and to ensure in terms of our coverage that we’re reaching as many people as possible.

For information on how to apply to become a mentor or mentee, please click here.


2015 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme is launched


The 2015 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme was launched on Tuesday 14th April at the RIBA in London, where past and potential future mentors and mentees from across the industry gathered to celebrate and share the successes and stories of the class of 2014, and to look ahead to an even bigger and better programme for the coming year.

The FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme is an innovative scheme developed by RIBA’s Architects for Change (AfC) committee and the Construction Industry Council, to address the retention and development of talented practitioners from diverse backgrounds for management and leadership roles in the built environment.

Following the event, Danna Walker, CIC Project Manager and AfC Chair, said:  “This is the third year of the programme and we look forward to building on our success from previous years so that more people can benefit from the mentor/mentee experience. It’s vitally important to our sector that we support talented practitioners by working together to leverage the power of “we” and build a more inclusive leadership model for construction. ”

Dieter Gockmann, a volunteer mentor last year said: “I know that not all architects are lucky enough to work with or for senior colleagues who are able to empathise with their personal or professional background. As a consequence, these architects are failing to get the support and encouragement they need to fulfil their potential and are opting instead to change careers and so we are losing highly talented and skilled architects to other professions and industries.”

Applications from potential mentors and mentees from every sector of the construction industry and from all career levels, from recent graduates to company Directors and Partners are welcomed. Application forms and guidance notes are available here.

As with previous years the organisers would particularly like to support and encourage applications from women, BME and LGBT professionals, professionals with disabilities and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The project has been developed in response to evidence gathered on diversity by the Construction Industry Council (CIC), AfC, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), the Government’s Fair Access to the Professions Report, the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Race Discrimination in the Construction Industry Inquiry Report in addition to other reports.

1. Text taken from the CIC Press Release.

2. Photograph –  left – right: Rowan Parnell, Sophie Waterhouse, Harry Rich, Danna Walker, Tim Hurtswyn, Cristina Lanz Azcarate and Dieter Gockmann

FLUID Programme Launch Event 2015

We are delighted to announce the launch of the 2015 FLUID Diversity Mentoring Programme! Building the success of previous years we are hoping that 2015’s programme will be even bigger and better.

We are inviting applications from potential mentors and mentees from every sector of the construction industry and from all career levels, from recent graduates to company Directors and Partners. As with previous years we would particularly like to support and encourage applications from women, BME and LGBT professionals, professionals with disabilities and those from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

If you are interested in learning more about the FLUID programme or would like to opportunity to meet some of FLUID’s alumni of wonderful mentors and mentees, please join us for our 2015 launch event at the RIBA when we shall be celebrating the successes and sharing some of the stories of our class of 2014.

The launch will take place on Tuesday 14th April from 6.30pm at the RIBA, London. To register your place please click here.

The Mentor Experience

Would you like to know what it’s like to be a mentor? Click here to see Dieter Gockmann and Sophie Waterhouse share their experiences of being a mentor.  If you’re inspired by their stories, then it’s not too late to apply to become a mentor.

Recruitment | Call for Mentors

Would you like to be a mentor? We’re still recruiting Architects who are at Associate level and above and would encourage women based particularly in London to apply.  For information on how you can become a volunteer mentor, click here or please contact Danna Walker Chair of AfC and Programme Manager by email at .