How did you get into the industry?
Isobel: At the age of 14 I entered a competition at school with the local council to review the regeneration of a town in Norway, Drammen, which was going to put forward ideas for the regeneration of Gloucester my hometown. There were two places available, and I won a place! I initially thought I wanted to be an architect after winning this placement. I was then offered to do a diploma in Construction and the built environment Level 2, whilst studying my GCSEs, which was a one day a week placement at Gloucestershire college. I did this, and this opened the world of construction which I never really considered before taking this opportunity.
What led you to want to work in the industry?
Isobel: I had an experience with a local building contractor at the age of 15 as part of work experience week. I shadowed a site manager onsite where they were building an extension on to my secondary school and that’s where I found a passion for working onsite and managing a construction project. This then led to me pursuing a career in construction, I went on to leave school and do a higher national diploma in Civil engineering L3 at college and then on to university to study Construction Management at London Southbank University. I always wanted to move to the big city and this was my opportunity, I qualified with a 1st class degree and now 7 years later, I am still pursuing my passion and love for building projects within the Parliamentary Estate. Since leaving university I have been promoted within DBR and have completed an NVQ L6 in construction contracting management, I am now working towards gaining my chartership with the CIOB.
Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry? Have perceptions changed?
Isobel: Yes, I feel that the industry as a whole has a better gender balance year on year, many of the professionals I work with are women. When I started studying construction outside of London, I was one of a few women but now there are more and more women that I work with.
How could the industry attract more women?
Isobel: I believe more women can be attracted to the industry by showing school leavers the opportunities out there and engaging with younger ages across the country. When I did work experience at 15, this opened an insight into construction and the range of disciplines within the industry, which is exciting and the opportunities are endless.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the construction industry?
Isobel: Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, if you have a passion and love for something embrace it, nothing is impossible. I have never thought of myself as a woman in construction, I just see myself as someone who is passionate and loves my job being onsite and seeing works on a project progress and learning something new every day. Gender doesn’t affect ability, loving what you do and being able to learn new technical knowledge, operations, and every detail of the project you are working on has an effect. Every day is exciting in my job role and the industry we are in
What are your views on events like International Women’s Day?
Isobel: I think this day is a good way of showcasing the range of disciplines within the construction industry and celebrating success across the world, it’s exciting to read other women’s career stories and it empowers me personally to tell my story and keep writing it daily, its good motivation year on year especially with my own development.
Describe a typical day in your job.
Isobel: Generally, my days involve liaising with specialist craftsmen on each project, reviewing the progress of works, technical requirements and the specifications. I liaise with specialist subcontractors and with the client’s project team and providing regular programme updates. I continue with reviewing tenders, running projects from the start through to completion. And overall, overseeing the management team onsite and updating required activities.
What’s your favourite project you’ve worked on?
Isobel: I don’t have a favourite, I love every project I work on in the Parliamentary Estate each project is unique and has its own individual elements, I learn something new every day.
Executive director, Adrian Attwood commented on International Woman’s Day, “DBR are very active in recruiting and promoting women into the construction industry and within our field of historic building conservation. Over 30% of our project managers are women, all of who are role models for encouraging greater diversity, and whose contribution to delivering complex conservation projects is exemplary.”