What is your job role?
I am currently a Construction Manager for Perrin & Son Construction Limited. Duties include plan and coordinate a project from start to finish, including organising the schedule of work, costings and budget; plan the work and oversee the buying of necessary materials and equipment; hire and manage staff for the project: manage the construction site on a day-to-day basis, including supervising the labour force, monitoring subcontractors, checking materials, inspecting work and overseeing quality control; ensure the project is delivered on time and on budget by setting benchmarks, agreeing budgets and monitoring progress; check design documents with architects, surveyors and engineers; promote and maintain health and safety, including site inspections to ensure safety rules are being followed; write reports; maintain regular communication and attend meetings with clients and their representatives to inform them of progress on the project, i.e. stakeholder management; communicate with any consultants, subcontractors, supervisors, planners, quantity surveyors and others involved in the project; deal with any unexpected problems that may occur during the project.
What/who was your inspiration for getting into construction?
This is tricky for me as I wasn’t inspired as such. All I remember is I walked past a building site and thought “That looks like my sort of thing. Mud, and being outdoors”. I applied for an administrator position within the industry as I wanted to get knowledge about the industry to figure out what was the best route for me.
What have you done to get to where you are now?
I started in the construction industry as an administrator when I was 17. I had no idea what I wanted to do within the industry so Simon (my director at my first construction job) allowed me to shadow various colleagues to see what interested me. After shadowing a variety of roles, I knew there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do after shadowing Steve (a QS) for a month. Simon allowed me to progress as an assistant QS and provided all the support and training required to achieve my goal of becoming a Quantity Surveyor. The first step was to let me get my Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. This allowed me to further understand what was required and how to obtain certain information on site for my role. My first task as an assistant QS was to assess subcontractor valuations so I was required on site to check the works they had complete that month. I remember a certain subcontractor knew I was dealing with it and tried their luck by adding variations without doing the works! Straight away I had a challenge as a female but more fool them. It made me more determined allowing me to undertake further training not only to prove them wrong, but to also progress further up the career ladder.
I have also undertaken a variety of assessments such as CIOB and RICS as well as a variety of training such as SMSTS, SEATS, NEBOSH etc. Despite often being the only woman in the room when on a course or on a construction site, I make a conscious effort to simply be myself and not view myself as the minority.
What is your favourite aspect of working in the industry?
Too many aspects to consider for this question. However, it would probably be making an impact on the community. Construction is one of the few industries that truly makes a difference in the community. No matter what we build, a home, an office, a commercial space, even a shopping mall, it will leave a lasting impression on the community. Construction provides us with an opportunity to shape the world, and whether it be several months or years after the project is completed, we can look proudly back at what we have helped to build. With my involvement in the construction of schools and hospitals, I have been able to ensure that children have access to education and that people have access to healthcare.
What would you change about the industry?
I think our industry has come a long way, but still has a hard road ahead. There is a danger in sticking to habits, and this has been seen in the construction industry where almost everyone seems to be stuck in the same practices that have been around for decades. Given this situation, it’s impossible for a new reality to emerge in this field. Also, because everything remains unchanged, companies build a bigger gap between what they offer and what customers want/need. The next day for construction doesn’t seem prominent at the moment. The situation could change, however, if a unified action was taken in the right direction. Although the transition will be difficult, it must be carried out. As well as embracing new technologies, research and development should be a priority. Moreover, both new and traditional techniques need to be combined successfully. Traditional approaches do not need to go away simply because new practices and techniques are needed. As a matter of fact, it should be our ultimate goal to find a way in which we can incorporate both positive elements from the past and innovative techniques from the future. As a result, the construction process will be further developed, and productivity will increase.
What are some of your hobbies outside of your work? Why?
One of my biggest passions has always been motorbikes. Not only do I watch the likes of British Superbikes (BSB) and MotoGP, but I also like to ride – worldwide. The best road trip so far for me was doing the Pyrenees in 2014. When you’re riding a motorcycle, you don’t just look at the scenery, you become a part of it. Your entire body is immersed in the beauty instead of glancing at it all through a window in a car.
Name one person you’d like to thank/shoutout and why?
Simon – my director at my first construction job! He was extremely supportive and allowed me to trial and error a variety of routes to figure out what I wanted to be. Without his guidance, knowledge, and support, I definitely would not be where I am today. Oh, and he made sure our Monday morning staff meetings were never without a sausage bap and a brew; Talk about motivating a team!
To find out more about Apprenticeships in Construction and the Built Environment: https://buildinggreaterexeter.co.uk/individuals/