Claire Spring, general manager of INC Solutions UAE, has explored various industries, from MEP to construction to fit-out, as she shares her journey as well as INC’s vision and future plans.

How has your early start in your career shaped you in your current role?

Over the last 20 years, I worked my way up through many different sectors from MEP contractor, and construction, all the way to fit-out, design, and build. Throughout my career, I’ve covered various areas from education, healthcare, hospitality as well as commercial. Having gained experience through these many roles in such sectors has given me a broader knowledge of the wider industry.

Discovering construction at a young age and knowing right away that I wanted to stay in this industry meant I could concentrate on my personal development and progression. Over time, I evolved into someone who was willing to take risks and put myself in challenging situations in order to achieve my goals. Now that I am in a position of leadership, I am deeply committed to the growth and advancement of my team.

I’ve only worked for three companies in my 20 years of experience. This has influenced me to believe that employees should not be required to leave a company to advance and move up. I am very supportive of employees’ advancement within a company and encourage my team to express their progression goals so that we can all work together to achieve them. Working for a forward-thinking, one-of-a-kind company like INC allows us to provide this type of advancement to our employees.

Also, because I was so young when I started in the industry, I am passionate about hiring young talent and providing them with the support and opportunities they need to grow within the company.

Why did you choose construction? What led you to construction? 

As a child, I had no desire to work in the construction industry! Construction, on the other hand, has always been a part of my family, as both my father and brother worked in the industry. I suppose there was always a chance it would find me.

At the age of 18, I landed my first job with one of London’s largest MEP contractors. I would say that working in this sector in London was a huge learning curve and a difficult time. Nonetheless, I knew right away that it was an exciting industry to work in; it was both social and rewarding.

I was just so happy to see something being created and built right in front of your eyes. This is the type of industry where once you’re in, you’re in for life.

Cloud Space fit-out and furniture supply of 19,964sqft ADGMS Abu Dhabi

What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction? 

It’s not something I often consider now, as the industry has positively evolved since I began 20 years ago. The industry is much more inclusive. However, back then, I won’t deny it was tough. As a young woman in construction, you had to find a way to be heard above the stereotypical older, male generation. Staying committed, dedicated and loyal to the business helped. I found that the more supportive I was to the people around me and the stronger we worked together as a team, the more I would get back. I also believe that having a good mentor to work for is always beneficial.

What is the biggest change you have seen in the field since you started? 

Like all sectors, the construction industry has seen a huge step forward with regard to increased technology and smarter ways of working. There are a lot more automated systems and online tools available in our industry to make the entire design and construction processes smoother and more efficient. But I believe that within the commercial office sector specifically, it’s the shift to see offices not only as a place to work but also as a place employees enjoy coming to, meeting with colleagues collaborating and being creative.

Employers take much more interest in employee well-being when designing office space now than they did previously. We are now designing the office around the employee’s needs and not the business’s needs. Office design is also more about flexibility for the future than ever before. We are no longer focusing just on what works now but on what will work further down the line and designing flexible spaces that can be adjusted to manage change. Offering clients designs that are flexible is key now.

You changed your career path from construction to fit-out in 2014; how did that happen?

Throughout the years, I’ve shifted roles from a large-scale MEP contractor to immense construction projects all the way to the fast-paced world of the fit-out. For me, moving from traditional contracting to design and build was the most refreshing change. Contrary to the larger and longer construction programmes, I thoroughly enjoy the fast pace of the interior design and fit-out world. In this industry, we are regularly winning and delivering many more projects. It’s exciting to work in the collaborative realms of design and build where teams work much closer together on the details. This is something I enjoy witnessing.

In your role, how important are leadership skills?

At INC there are two key elements of our DNA: We are passionate about what we do, and we care; not only about our clients but also about our employees. I believe that it’s essential to show that the leadership team genuinely cares about the success of the employees and the business while demonstrating our own passion and excitement towards the work we do. This goes a long way in building and shaping an inspiring workplace. I believe in leading by example, and that means allowing myself to have a good work-life balance, while still being dedicated to the business. This encourages the team to do the same.

How are you finding the fit-out field in the region? What is lacking, and what can be done to improve it?

Over the years, the UAE has seen some stunning new commercial offices coming to life. For example, Dubai Design District, DWTC One Central and of course the stunning ICD Brookfield. The attention now needs to turn to the older buildings in Dubai. I think we need to now focus on upgrading some of the previously popular areas to keep up with the competition.

What techniques and methods are you focussing on at INC that could be game changers in the future in the fit-out industry?

INC is still one of the very few true Design & Build companies within the UAE. We have the largest in-house design team for a company of this nature in the region. While this is not unique around the world, within this region, it truly allows us to not only support our clients directly on D&B Projects but also the Design Consultants within the market that we work with. Quite often, we are a true extension of their design team and genuinely offer that extra collaboration to our joint clients on traditional projects.

At INC we also pride ourselves on looking after our clients long after they occupy their space. We truly focus on the After Care aspect which is something that is often overlooked by others. We have a full aftercare team with a firm process and system in place dedicated to keeping our clients returning to us again.

What are some exciting projects that you’re currently working on?

We have actually just completed the third FitnGlam gym in the UAE. They are a revolutionary gym within the UAE that focuses on female empowerment. Considering INC is a female-led organization, we are very proud to have completed all three of their gyms.

Another project we are proud of is the Cloud Space office in Abu Dhabi. They are a pioneering brand that offers flexible workplace solutions aimed toward creating inspiring coworking spaces to fit just about any work style. Our scope of work on this project included the full MEP services, bespoke joinery items, and full installations of AV/IT, specialised lighting, furniture, and flooring, we are very proud of the final outcome. We are excited about Cloud Space’s expansion to Dubai and look forward to completing more projects with them.

How do you envision your future with the company?

I am extremely proud of the success INC has established over the years in the UAE. I feel fulfilled to have found my role here and been part of such an exciting time for the business.

Although our roots are firmly on the ground here in the UAE, the INC business continues to expand with the establishment of the INC Group. I am excited to see where we go next, and of course where this also takes me!