Relocation: An interview with Alexandra Scholes

Posted by: Michael Beeken

Date posted: 03/12/18

As a business, we’re proud of the calibre of candidates we work with and are therefore pleased to launch a series of interviews showcasing their success.

With London being seen as an international design hub and 'go-to' place for Architects & Designers alike, we receive a number of applications from overseas candidates who want to relocate.

Having successfully joined the team at MCM through Beeken Reeves, Alexandra Scholes talked through her plans for the future, challenges with her relocation experience and what projects she's been getting her teeth into.

What attracted you to move to the UK from South Africa?

I decided to move in order to be closer to my family living in London and to experience working and living in a different country.

What has your involvement been so far at MCM and how have you settled in?

I have been working on an alteration and addition of an office building in Farringdon. I came onto the project at tender stage and have been helping with documentation and detail development in preparation for construction documentation. Recently, I have moved over to the client monitoring side of the team.

How has this been unique from your previous experiences? What has made it memorable?

Johannesburg is a young city that was established in the late 19th century and so many architectural projects involve working on new buildings, rather than refurbishments and alterations. London is obviously considerably older and it’s exciting to work within this historical built fabric and the design and construction parameters that it brings with it.

What’s been your biggest and most important learning so far & what advice would you give to someone moving to the UK?

I would advise someone moving to the UK to try and be resilient and to not lose hope during the challenging transition. I would recommend talking to as many practitioners as you can to get information about the industry and advice regarding job opportunities, as well as engaging the services of recruitment agents to guide you through the job application process.

What new challenges have you faced in the UK compared to South Africa?

In terms of my work, I am fortunate that my architectural training and skills are transferable to different countries. I still need to learn the regulations that are specific to the UK but the construction methodology and approach to design are very similar to the same processes in South Africa. I think the biggest challenge I faced when I first started looking for work was to know which architectural practices to approach. The industry in South Africa is relatively small but in London, there are a huge number of practices of varying scales and specialities; it was difficult to know where to start with job applications.

What does the next year have in store for you?

Hopefully some travel! London is considerably closer to lots of iconic cities than Johannesburg!

What do you ultimately want to achieve in your career?

I enjoy working on commercial projects, but would love the opportunity to expand my experience by working on other building types, especially cultural and residential.

Michael Beeken


Michael has worked in recruitment for the best part of his professional career. After graduating from University of Leeds, he progressed to the Head of Commercial Development at SRP, where he was responsible for the executive search division. He has an overview of all accounts within Beeken Reeves, supporting the recruitment process and developing the internal team.