We sat down with two of CCi’s talented Malaysia team, Naz Rahim, Associate Director and Azna Azman, Senior Consultant. Naz and Azna specialise in Quantum Disputes and Claims, they have worked together for a considerable time and talk about the value of mentoring and developing relationships with great colleagues. Both have benefitted from nurturing their working relationship, they approach challenges differently and bounce ideas off each other. We found Naz and Azna’s stories insightful and we hope it inspires other Quantity Surveyors.
Can you give some details about your background and what you enjoy?
Naz: I came from a small town in the northern side of Malaysia known as Alor Setar, Kedah. My late father was a Civil and Structural Engineer, and my mom is a Town Planner who is still running her practice at the age of 70. I guess, I inherited the “construction blood” through them.
Professionally, I have built my career as a specialist claims consultant, I have worked with Claims or Quantity Surveying firms since 2003 in Malaysia, Ireland and Qatar.
Azna: I came from a town named Gopeng in Perak. My mother is my role model, she set an example of the iron lady who is spirited, she inspired me to have enormous dreams that I believed will become true one day. My father was in the army and for sure, discipline and punctuality are the two most important rules he instilled in us.
After many years of striving and working part time jobs, I managed to put myself through University. During my studies, I found Contracts and Law fascinating and an area I wanted to specialise in. I was intrigued by resolving the level of conflict and the battles that occurred between people on projects.
It was a personal challenge to put myself through university however I finally graduated and gained experience as a professional Quantity Surveyor in the claims and contracts industry.
What is your role at CCi?
Naz: I am an Associate Director; I lead quantum disputes and claims. My role is largely supporting our Regional Director lead, coaching and guiding the Quantum team across a range of complex disputes and commissions. In addition, my role extends to assisting the Regional Director deliver our business development plan. I consider my key role within CCi Malaysia as the bridge between the team members and management. I enjoy taking care of the team and being their go-to person if they need someone to talk to. My personal mission is to develop a strong quantum and delay team members who are culturally diverse, positive, respectful, supportive, open minded and trustworthy.
Looking ahead, I would like to continue developing my experience as a Quantum Expert Witness. I have previously been appointed and testified in Malaysian Courts as an Expert Witness prior to joining CCi and looking ahead, I hope to further develop my role with CCi Malaysia.
Azna: I am a Senior Consultant – Quantum, I perform a professional role in the fundamentals of Quantity Surveying, Contract Administration, Claims Management, and Dispute Resolution for clients. In addition to my technical duties, I enjoy meeting new clients and assisting with business development.
What sparked your interest in Quantity Surveying and transition to specialising is disputes?
Naz: After school, I was always clear that I wanted to read law and become a lawyer (just like Ally McBeal!). It was my late father who persuaded me to consider Quantity Surveying. He said that I have a responsibility to continue the family’s construction legacy. I remember attending my first few weeks as a freshman in the university in protest. That was until I started my first Contract Law class. Then I realised the element of “Law” came into the picture. I was thrilled as I did not expect that I could study a law subject as a Quantity Surveying student. In my second year I also studied Land Law. As I progressed with the course over the next 4 years, I covered Construction Law, Law of Agency, Law of Torts, and other forms of Law. Thanks to “Law”, it sparked my interest in Quantity Surveying and subsequently, in claims, contract and dispute management.
Back in early 2000s, the claims industry was not that well known to young Malaysian professionals. In fact, none of the academic subjects which we learned in university talked about Dispute Resolution and Claims Consulting as an area of service. Like most people, I immediately jumped into a QS firm after my graduation and did what everyone else does. At that point in time, I had no clue that my role as a Consultant Quantity Surveyor could be so diverse.
In 2006, I moved to Dublin and worked with an Irish PQS firm. The construction dynamic in Ireland during that time was extremely active. The country rolled out their new set of government contracts, including re-vamping their national procurement policies. At the same time, the European Union had also revised its public works procurement policies. I showed great interest in this subject and was given the opportunity to work as my employer’s Internal Contract Reviewer. My role was to interpret new contracts and policies, update the firm’s policies to reflect the same and to provide training to all employees.
There were many Irish and European case laws that I needed to be familiarise myself with when interpreting these contracts and policies. There were issues around contractual risks and obligations that needed to be addressed to ensure compliance with the new contracts and procurement policies. Thus, this role necessitated my collaboration with my employer’s legal team in its London HQ. This was the starting point when I realised that the role of a Quantity Surveyor could evolve further than typical Bills of Quantities preparation, estimation etc.
Due to the recession in Ireland, in 2009, I returned to Malaysia. Upon my return, I have joined a claims consultancy based in Kuala Lumpur. On my first day of work, I was already on a plane to Doha. I was retained by a Malaysian Main Contractor to provide contracts and claims advisory support to its Subcontract Team for the next 2 years. Since then, I have never looked back and kept going as a construction claims and contract enthusiast.
Azna: I would say that a case of ‘Donoghue v Stevenson’  or known as “Snail in the Bottle” case has piqued my interest to learn more about construction industry cases during my studies. I paid attention to Malaysian laws, Contract Acts and Commercial laws.
I feel lucky to have been presented with an opportunity to join a claims consultancy company just after graduating. My journey in the claims industry has been illuminated through coaching, training and guidance from some remarkable mentors.
What trends have you noticed in the Middle East and Asia market in construction claims over your career?
Naz: Over the last 10 years, the common trend that I have observed is the lack of women breaking into Expert roles. When I joined CCi, I learned that the APAC Regional Director is an expert in Delay. That was great to know.
The 2nd common trend that I have observed is an increased level of awareness about the claim’s consultant roles amongst Quantity Surveying students. I have been invited by higher learning institutions to share my experience in claims and to provide some guidance about career paths after graduation. I have valued this opportunity to show students where a Quantity Surveying degree can take them and the diverse options that are available to them.
We understand that you support students within the construction industry, by mentoring them in their studies and providing guidance on career development. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Azna: Thinking back, I was blessed to receive such formal training entering the industry. I believe having a mentor makes life easier as it helps direct you on the path you may not see for yourself.
I started to reach out and get connected to students who were seeking advice during their final semester or by reviewing the contents of their reports, I provided them with guidance and suggestions for improvement.
I also positively influence young students to establish and find their enthusiasm and love for their career path. I volunteer as a supervisor to students who wish to pursue their professional qualification (Sr) with Royal Institution of Surveyor Malaysia and Board of Quantity Surveyor Malaysia. I’m proud to say that almost all students that I helped are still in touch with me as to date.
We understand you have worked together before CCi. Tell us more about when you first met.
Azna: I met Naz in 2016 when Naz was heading back to KL from Dublin to join our previous company. I was on my last year of professional study with BQSM and RISM, Naz was my supervisor who provided mentorship towards my professional critical analysis report.
Since that first experience we have worked in couple of Claims firms together until now.
After working together for 6 years, how do you think your working relationship has helped you throughout your careers?
Azna: I would say that Naz and I have different ways of approaching, tackling, managing and resolving issues and problems that relate to our works and industry in some circumstances.
Nevertheless, it’s a good thing that we have different approaches because we respect each other opinions, and we listen to each other voices. We then brainstorm and reach out the best way forward.
We both also share our knowledge via exchange thoughts for self-learning, articles and advertisements related to our field, we attend seminars together and also discuss our performance, goals, plans and etc., frequently.
Naz: Each of us has our own unique personality, strength, and weaknesses. Working together gives us the opportunity to provide each other feedback and to professional support each other in times in need.
We have been nicknamed the “Dynamic Duo” or the “Double-Trouble”.
We also go by the mantra of “together, we are stronger”. So, it goes naturally for both of us to provide that indirect “support system” especially in work, which is a great thing.
How important has it been to have a colleague who you have such a strong working relationship with?
Azna: A good colleague is very important, and they are one of the factors in your successful career path. For me, it’s been hugely beneficial to reach out to a trusted colleague and share what I am up to. You never know who could walk into your life and be a positive influence.
What is next for you in your career with CCi?
Naz: I have never worked with big corporate like CCi Rimkus, hence, my previously planned career path was largely straight forward, e.g., at some point in my career, I will run my own construction related consultancy practice just like my parents did.
With CCi, I feel that the career path is more structured and there is clarity in terms of a long-term planning in that.
To become an establish Expert Witness will be my ultimate career goal in this industry.
Typically, we see higher ranking executives are generally older professionals. In my case, I am aiming at a rather “fast-track” approach to narrow down the generation gap. I think this could also inspire many other young consultants working with CCi and the wider industry.
Azna: I have always categorised my career into short term and long-term goals. It is beneficial as well as promising. So, for my short-term career goals is to get more get my RICS completed and sit for an Adjudication course to become a qualified Adjudicator.
For my long-term goals with CCi, I would like to enter into a leadership role, and improve my writing skills.
 Ng, G. (2021) Donoghue v Stevenson, LawLife. LawLife. Available at: https://lawlife.com.au/case-notes-1/2021/12/18/donoghue-v-stevenson (Accessed: March 3, 2023).